Remember to slow down move over for roadside construction, emergency efforts

A rash of collisions involving motorists and highway and/or emergency workers has Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and the Office of Traffic Safety are calling on drivers to be extra careful and obey the states slow down move over law. Since Sept. 16, there have been four traffic collisions that injured 15 people. All involved motorists hitting vehicles and highway workers along the side of highways statewide. And all were preventable, the agencies reported. “Every day, highway workers put their lives in danger just by going to work,” said  Malcolm Dougherty, director of Caltrans. “These incidents are a sobering reminder that we all must do everything we can to keep our highways safe. Motorists must slow down, watch out for highway workers and safely move over a lane when passing work crews.” In the first collision, on Sept. 16, a passenger vehicle collided head-on with a Caltrans truck on State Route 20 in Mendocino County. The worker had stopped to remove a dead deer from the roadway. The crash sent both drivers and their passengers to the hospital with major injuries. That same day, a contractor on flagging duty sustained major injuries when he was struck by a driver trying to avoid another driver who had slowed down for the construction project near State Route 191 in Butte County. Then, on Sept. 17, a CHP officer saved the life of a Caltrans worker on Interstate 80 in Auburn. The worker was picking up debris along the highway when a vehicle entered the work area at 65 mph. The officer positioned his cruiser between the oncoming car and the Caltrans worker, absorbing the impact. The officer was knocked unconscious from the collision. And on Sept. 18, a big rig injured himself, two Caltrans workers and six members of a crew of court-ordered community service workers picking up roadside litter when he drove into a work zone on State Route 60 in Diamond Bar. Highway construction and maintenance jobs are among the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In California, 180 Caltrans employees have died on the job since 1927. “By moving over and slowing down, motorists can do their part to ensure the public, highway workers, and emergency personnel stay safe,” said Joe Farrow, CHP commissioner. “The CHP will continue to work with Caltrans to ensure motorists are complying with the Move Over, Slow Down law.” California's Move Over Law took effect in 2007 and was amended in 2009. It added Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights to the list of vehicles for which motorists must move over if safe to do so, or slow down. It follows Caltrans successful "Slow for the Cone Zone" campaign launched in 1999. Since its inception, California’s work zone fatality rate sank 56 percent compared to a nationwide dip of 32 percent. “Every day on every highway throughout the state, highway workers, emergency personnel, tow truck operators, and law enforcement risk their lives to make travel safer and more efficient,” said Chris Cochran, Assistant Director, Marketing and Public Affairs, California Office of Traffic Safety. “We can all help just by following the simple rule when we see flashing lights on the side of the road – Move Over, Slow Down.”  
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