Move Over, Slow Down: Rash of Cone Zone Crashes
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
The number of deaths or injuries in construction zones is on the rise.
Law enforcement and Caltrans want to remind drivers to move over and slow down.
Being a highway worker is one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation.
Six motorists and workers were killed in highway work zones in California last month.
Caltrans employees, Darryl Brown and Thomas Rangel, are busy making repairs to Interstate 10 here in the valley...
But one January morning on Highway 62, almost turned deadly for them.
"We were working and a vehicle just came from nowhere and just hit the back of our vehicle," said Brown.
Thomas was inside the Caltrans truck when the other vehicle slammed into it, rolled, and caught fire.
"I was injured severely and he saved my life, pulled me out," said Rangel.
Darryl also rescued the driver of the truck by putting out the flames.
The driver and Thomas had serious injuries, but survived.
"Being a highway worker is actually one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation that you can have now, and it shouldn't be a life or death situation every day that you go to work.," said Caltrans District 8 spokesperson, Terri Kasinga.
Unfortunately, Caltrans says cone zones crashes jumped in July.
"We've had construction workers killed, and then also people from the public, motorists, that have been killed as a result," said Kasinga.
California Highway Patrol asks drivers to put themselves in highway workers shoes.
"How fast would they want cars to go by, would they want a car to drive by at 80 miles an hour, a mere foot away?" asked Officer Joe Zagorski with California Highway Patrol.
The number one killer of law enforcement officers is automobiles.
The law is move over to another lane if it is safe, and slow down.
"As the slow down, move over law applies to Caltrans, it also applies to tow truck operators and also CHP officers and emergency personnel working along the freeways, so anytime you go by one of these vehicles you need to move over to a prudent speed or you can get cited, and it's an expensive ticket," said Officer Zagorski.
Up to one thousand bucks, a costly price to pay. But a moment of distraction can become deadly.
"The guy who hit me was reaching for a cup of coffee, he was not paying attention, and there was no one else on the road, just me and him, and the driver hit us," said Rangel.
Darryl and Thomas are back to work -- with a watchful eye on traffic.
"It's not just our job, its an adventure. It's our job but we have that element of danger."
So next time you see a construction crew or emergency vehicle or patrol car or tow truck, move over and slow down.
And not slowing down can also hurt your wallet, traffic fines double in the cone zone.
Both Caltrans workers in that crash, Thomas and Darryl, have been nominated for the Governor's Medal of Valor award for their lifesaving efforts for the motorist in burning vehicle.