Caltrans recently honored the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while working to keep others safe, building and maintaining California’s transportation system.
At the 29th Annual Workers Memorial on April 25, Caltrans employees, dignitaries, family and friends gathered on the West Steps of the State Capitol in remembrance of the 189 public servants who died in the line of service since 1921. This event serves as a sobering reminder to drivers to pay attention and “Be Work Zone Alert.”
A special tribute was paid in honor of maintenance leadworker William “Cas” Casdorph, 57, who died Sept. 19 along State Route 163 in San Diego. He was a dedicated family man who served in the department for nearly 20 years.
“William Casdorph was the 189th Caltrans worker who went to work and never made it back home,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “The work our employees do is vital for the safety of our residents and visitors. I am committed to continue pushing new safety measures that will help protect our employees and the public.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States. In 2018, more than 7,000 work-zone collisions occurred on California roadways. About 2,300 resulted in injuries, and 46 involved a fatality. Nationally drivers and passengers account for 85 percent of the people who are killed in work zones.
Speakers emphasized the need to help keep highway workers safe by slowing down in work zones and paying attention. California’s Move Over or Slow Down law requires drivers approaching vehicles with flashing amber lights to slow down and move over a lane if safe to do so. Allowing enough space for workers helps prevent crashes that can cause serious injury or death to Caltrans employees, contractors and motorists.
With the help of Senate Bill 1, Caltrans and local agencies now have an additional $5 billion a year to fix existing roads and address congestion. This has doubled the number of work zones on California highways as compared to two years ago and means more exposure for work crews.
Caltrans has partnered with the California Transportation Foundation to develop two funds to benefit the families of Caltrans workers killed on the job. The Fallen Workers Assistance and Memorial Fund helps with the initial needs a surviving family faces and the Caltrans Fallen Workers Memorial Scholarship is available to the children of these workers. For more information or to make donations, visit www.transportationfoundation.org.