Caltrans has joined forces with the CHP to make safety a top priority. Their goal is to ensure an even safer roadside environment for Caltrans workers - and the results of having CHP in the area have been pretty successful. Caltrans Resident Engineer Ben Hargrove says, "It is 100% effective. I've been doing this for 12 years and I've noticed when the CHP is there, everyone behaves."
In the past year, four Caltrans workers have died in a traffic related incident while at work. One of them, Gary Smith, a Caltrans worker from Chico who was killed on Highway 99 by an alleged drunk driver last November. Since 1924, 178 Caltrans workers have died on the job, which means safety always comes first. "The ultimate price is someone getting killed. We're desperately trying to avoid that in every way we can," says Hargrove.
In 1999, Caltrans began the Slow for the Cone Zone campaign. Then in 2009, Caltrans vehicles were added to the Move Over law, which requires drivers to move over a lane when vehicles are flashing lights. And if there isn't a lane to move into, Oroville CHP Officer Caleb Stewart says just slow down. "Slow down to a speed that you would be comfortable standing there doing your business on the side of the freeway."
With this new campaign, CHP officers will park their vehicles within work zones, and drivers who do not abide by the law will be ticketed. Officer Stewart says slowing down may mean saving a life. Stewart says, "There's nothing like losing a life. There's nothing more valuable than that. And that's what I think the public should understand - the value of a life."