Caltrans holds memorial at State Capitol honoring 175 fallen workers

At its 21st Annual Workers Memorial held on April 28 at the State Capitol, Caltrans honored its 175 employees who were killed on the job, including Gary Smith, a maintenance worker killed last year by a suspected drunk driver on Highway 99 north of Chico.

“Every day, highway workers put their lives in danger just by going to work,” said Caltrans Director Cindy McKim. “This memorial reminds us that we all must do our part to keep our state’s highways safe by slowing down in work zones.”

Caltrans has partnered with the California Transportation Foundation to develop two new funds to benefit the families of Caltrans workers killed on the job. The new Fallen Workers Assistance Memorial will fund the initial needs a surviving family faces, and next year, the children of lost workers may apply for the Fallen Workers Children’s Scholarship.

Highway construction and maintenance is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. The risk of death is seven times greater for highway workers than for the average worker. However, California has made significant strides in highway work zone safety since 1999 when Caltrans launched its Slow for the Cone Zone safety campaign. The most recent fatality data from 2009 shows that since the inception of Slow for the Cone Zone, California’s highway work zone fatality rate dropped 13 percent compared to 2.5 percent for rest of the nation.

To download video of Caltrans highway workers for broadcast and a Slow for the Cone Zone fact sheet, please visit: