Our View: Slow down, stay alert and save lives

Our View
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At some point you’ve encountered it this summer — roadwork. The question is … how did you drive through it? Were you cautious? Did you slow down to the posted speed limit? Were you on the lookout for California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) workers? It seems that many drivers ignore these rules of the road. Recently, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol asked the media to come up to the Emigrant Gap construction zone, an 11-mile stretch between Emigrant Gap and Rainbow on Interstate 80, to highlight the dangers of ignoring these rules when passing through work zones. And there was good reason for the request — there have been 24 wrecks in this stretch of road in the month of July alone (including one fatality), mostly due to drivers not following the rules. Slow down, be alert and obey the speed limit and let everyone get to their destination safely — be it home, or vacation. From re-paving projects along I-80 from Auburn down to Loomis and beyond, to the narrow stretch of roadway in the Emigrant Gap area, road construction has been a part of our daily driving routines this summer. Part of those routines needs to be an adjustment of your speed and keeping an eye out for workers. In more severe cases of road construction, such as in the Emigrant Gap area, where the lanes are one foot shorter in width than normal ones, and an interstate that is frequented by semi-trucks in the slow lane, being alert and driving for others on the road is essential to making safe passage. But it’s not just your safety that should be considered, but that of the men and woman who put their lives on the line to make I-80 smooth once again after years of vehicles with chains on their wheels chew it up. According to Caltrans, since 1972, 90 of its workers (contractor employees not included) have been killed while on the job throughout the state, with three losing their lives in 2011. “These are regular people, just like you and me, they have families, kids and wives, they’re not machines,” Wes Murer the north region safety specialist with Teichert Construction told the Journal recently in regard to road construction workers. So follow those reduced speeds in the construction zones. Caltrans recently told the Journal that speeding through the Emigrant Gap construction area at 65 miles per hour (stated speed limit is 55 mph), drivers only save 1 minute, 54 seconds. Is that time really worth a car wreck, or more importantly, the loss of someone’s life? The answer is simple — no. Slow down, stay alert, watch out for others in construction zones and everyone stays alive.