The new law, Senate Bill 240 by Sen. Roderick Wright, adds Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights to the list of vehicles for which motorists must slow down and, if safe, move over to a lane not immediately adjacent to the stationary vehicle.
“This protects the safety of our workers,” Caltrans Director Randy Iwasaki said. “Highway workers face the same dangers from fast-moving traffic as emergency personnel and tow-truck operators. We appreciate the leadership and recognition of the legislature and governor for the need to provide a safer working environment for our employees.”
Since 1924, 174 Caltrans workers have lost their lives in the line of duty. On July 23, 2009, Caltrans worker Don Lichliter was struck and fatally injured by a passing truck on Highway 99 in Lodi. He was with another worker applying a fertilizer treatment to keep eucalyptus trees healthy. Their truck was parked on the shoulder.
To date, 45 other states have enacted similar laws requiring motorists to move over or slow down.
Violation of the new provision is punishable by a fine of not more than $50. The new law also makes the safety protections permanent by removing the sunset date of Jan. 1, 2010.
— David Anderson is a public information officer for the California Department of Transportation.