BRAWLEY – Caltrans District 11 held their 24th Annual Highway Workers Memorial Day in Brawley Wednesday.
Since 1924, 183 Caltrans highway workers have been killed in work-related accidents on California highways.
District 11 is the Imperial Valley area for Caltrans.
Everette Townsend, District 11 Chief of Maintenance, said, “2014 has been a relatively safe year in District 11. Statewide, 2 workers lost their lives in District 2. There has been a rash of close-call incidents. Even though no one was injured, these remind us that we cannot be too careful and that there is always more that we can do to keep our people safe. The ‘Move Over’ campaign was launched in 2011 to increase motorist awareness by asking them to move over a lane and slow for vehicles with flashing amber lights.”
A Caltrans employee, William Hoover Jr., played bagpipes for the fallen workers and nine Caltrans workers read the names of the fallen 183 workers.
The California Highway Patrol Honor Guard was on hand for the ceremony.
Laurie Berman, District 11 Director, said, “Anytime a member of the Caltrans family is lost, the shock and sadness is felt by all of us, whether we knew them or not. Simple accidents can have dire consequences.”
The number of Caltrans worker fatalities peaked in the 1990’s. Caltrans began cautioning motorists to slow down in ‘Cone Zone’ areas. Since 2002, nationwide worksite fatalities have been cut in half.
Safety is Caltrans number one priority.
The California Highway Patrol partners with Caltrans at all worksites on the highways to add an extra measure of caution to the drivers.
On average, 1,000 Caltrans vehicles are hit each year in worksite areas, some traveling as fast as 70 miles per hour.
“This year, we are trying to personalize the ‘Move Over’ campaign message,” said Berman. “We are using digital billboards with the names and pictures of our fallen workers with the reminder that these people are somebody’s spouse, child, or parent. Our workers all have families that they need to go home to at night. These are real people doing very hard jobs every day. When you see them working on our highways, slow down, pay attention, and move over.”