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Consider the safety of road workers
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It seems annually one or more CalTrans workers are killed while on the job. And how this can happen, given all the safety control devices and steps that are taken by CalTrans and its contractors, is beyond explanation.

Most all CalTrans project sites are cordoned off with cones. The areas are well-lighted during nighttime hours, electronic signage placed well in advance of the locations warn motorists of the impending hazards, CHP personnel are usually positioned at strategic locations, and the workers themselves exercise great care to protect themselves from errant motorists. CalTrans worker safety is a top priority for that agency, so the employees receive training to help protect them from the hazards of motorists. The agency also incorporates traffic safety designs into all of their roadway projects. No matter what efforts the engineers and planners make, they just cannot eliminate all traffic threats that the motorists create for the workers.

The CalTrans worker death statistics are just part of the story. Little is publicized about the number of these workers who are struck by motorists and are "only" injured. There are also innumerable near misses where CalTrans workers manage to avoid being struck through a combination of athletic prowess and some inexplicable stroke of luck. These near misses happen all the time.

Some of the reasons CalTrans workers are getting killed and injured by motorists is because some are under the influence of intoxicating substances, many are engaged in distracting activities like texting, operating sound systems, reading, applying make-up, grooming, talking to passengers, talking on cell phones, reaching for something that has fallen on the floor, or eating and drinking beverages. Some motorists are tired or falling asleep when they veer into CalTrans work sites, and yet others are simply driving too fast, driving carelessly, or otherwise operating their vehicles in a reckless manner.

Short of shutting down an entire highway section to ensure CalTrans worker safety, I believe that little else will protect them. If the trend continues unabated, the roadway closure option may well be the state's fallback position. Frankly, the safety of these workers is the motoring public's responsibility. It is up to us to exercise maximum caution for all personnel working at the CalTrans project sites. We have both a moral and legal obligation to concentrate solely on driving when passing through these areas. Driving slowly is key to ensuring the survival of the workers, and doing so makes it safer for the motorists as well.

I have tremendous respect for the CalTrans workers and their contract employees who build and maintain our highways. Their jobs are as dangerous as can be, yet few people even think about that aspect of their existence. It is time we do so.