Caltrans commemorated the passing of three more of its employees Thursday during its 27th Annual Workers Memorial at the State Capitol. There have been a total of 187 Caltrans employees who lost their lives on the job since 1921. Dignitaries, Caltrans employees, and family and friends paid special tribute to Jorge Lopez, Randy Whisenhunt and Annette Brooks, who all lost their lives since last year’s memorial.
“We honor and recognize the tremendous loss that their loved ones and friends have suffered,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “The greatest honor we can give is to keep their memories alive to help prevent future tragedies.”
“Each day that work goes on, Caltrans workers risk the known hazards of repairing our roads with traffic operating just feet away,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly. “I want to thank the men and women of Caltrans for your efforts keeping Californians safe, and keeping our state moving.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In 2013, there were 5,887 work zone collisions on California roadways resulting in 51 fatalities and 2,757 injuries, compared to 6,525 work zone collisions resulting in 43 fatalities and 3,243 injuries in 2014. Nationally drivers and passengers account for 85 percent of the people who are killed in highway work zones. These numbers don’t include the close calls highway workers experience every day.
Work zones are dynamic places that can change from minute to minute. The presence of large trucks, changing traffic patterns and reduced speed limits creates an environment where being alert can be the difference between life and death.
Motorists can dramatically improve safety in work zones by slowing down and reducing distractions like texting and talking on the phone, and complying with the Move Over law, which requires motorists to move over if it is safe to do so, or slow down when approaching vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights.
Caltrans has partnered with the California Transportation Foundation to develop funds to benefit the families of Caltrans workers killed on the job. The Fallen Workers Assistance and Memorial Fund helps with the initial needs a surviving family faces, and the children of fallen workers may apply for a Caltrans Fallen Workers Memorial Scholarship. For more information or to make donations, visit www.transportationfoundation.org.
As we honor the 187 Caltrans workers killed on the job since 1921. We also thank the 19,000 Caltrans workers who help make our streets and highways safer, each and every day. In the coming years, we will see a lot of activity on our highways. Work zone safety is in our hands; stay alert and help protect our workers so they can come home to their loved ones and families. For more information on Caltrans’ fallen workers: http://www.dot.ca.gov/paffairs/workersmemorial/