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CalTrans gets motorists to 'Move Over'

July 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Move over and help save the lives of CalTrans workers. That's the message from a new freeway safety campaign.

With 700 electronic highway signs throughout California, CalTrans is hoping motorists will take notice.

On Wednesday, CalTrans workers spoke about the dangers they face on the job.

"Highway workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in America," said Director Ray Wolfe from CalTrans District 8. "There is no margin of error."

The "Move Over" campaign comes in the wake of three fatal collisions involving CalTrans workers. The deaths occurred in the San Diego area within a 5-week period during the months of May and June.

There are also the hundreds of close calls.

"I've been rear-ended in a vehicle twice, side-swiped probably four or five times, mirrors taken off," said equipment operator Michele Easel.

Maintenance worker Daniel Esaats has also had three near misses, and one almost cost him his life.

"After I filled a pothole I turned in time for a car to strike me at about 55 mph," said Esaats. "They didn't even slow down. I spun to the ground. When I got up I was happy to be alive."

In 2007 California lawmakers passed legislation to protect highway and emergency personnel. The law requires drivers to change lanes or slow down when they see flashing lights.

CalTrans worker David Leivas lost a close friend and co-worker the same year the "Move Over" law took effect.

"It was devastating," said Leivas. "He was a fellow family member. Since then my motto has been drive to stay alive out there."

Getting drivers to slow down and stay aware can be the hardest message to get across. More often than not, inattention and impatience seems to rule the roadways.

They're speeding; they're weaving in and out of traffic," said Easel. "They are just very arrogant."

Drivers who ignore that safety regulation can face a $50 fine. The CalTrans campaign will end on July 22.

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