Stung by the recent deaths of three of its workers, Caltrans on Monday launched a campaign designed to educate the public about the state’s “Move Over Law.”
The law, which has been in place since 2007, requires motorists to move over a lane when they see Caltrans trucks or other emergency vehicles with flashing amber lights.
Forty-five other states have enacted similar legislation in an effort to protect workers who have “one of the most dangerous jobs in America,” according to Caltrans.
The state transportation agency lost three employees between May 4 and June 20. Landscape maintenance worker Stephen Palmer Sr. was killed May 4 in National City, maintenance lead worker Jaime Obeso was killed June 7 in El Centro, and equipment operator Richard Gonzalez was killed June 20 in San Diego.
Since 1924, 178 Caltrans workers have died on the job.
As part of its efforts, Caltrans will use public service announcements and an outdoor advertising campaign.
It also will post Move Over safety messages on its 700 electronic highway message signs, which will run statewide through July 22.
The recent fatalities have spurred Caltrans into aggressive actions to alert the public to the dangers Caltrans workers face. On the day Gonzalez died, Caltrans halted all routine maintenance activities to evaluate safety procedures and devise ways to plead to the public on behalf of worker safety.
The agency is taking other steps, as well.
It has, for example, enlisted the California Highway Patrol to post vehicles in construction and maintenance work zones.
Caltrans also is:
- Redirecting funding internally to increase lighting for worker safety during night construction;
- Working to buy and install increased and enhanced emergency horn systems on shadow trucks, to notify workers of errant vehicles; and
- Increasing the number of truck arrow boards and changeable message signs to improve lighting and notification.
The California Highway Patrol issued 1,177 citations for violating the “Move Over” law in 2010.