Tony Bizjak

Back-seat Driver: Yellow is new orange for Caltrans workers

Published: Friday, Jul. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 12, 2013 - 6:39 am

A colorful cultural icon on California roadways may be disappearing.

Fewer state Transportation Department workers are wearing the classic bright orange safety vests. Instead, fluorescent yellow is a new favorite safety hue on the highway.

There's no Caltrans policy on orange vs. yellow, said Ed Yarbrough, a Caltrans construction safety engineer. But Yarbrough said he and others believe fluorescent yellow "pops" more than orange. In other words, it's more visible to approaching drivers.

"That's just personal opinion," Yarbrough said. Plus, the yellow vests are cooler. That's important in 100-degree Sacramento weather.

Heads up

Speaking of construction colors, hard hats come in varying hues as well – and often say something about the wearer.

Most road crews wear white hard hats, but bridge workers often wear brown hats made of steel, and some companies require rookie employees to wear red hard hats so fellow workers can keep watch on them.

Electricians often wear yellow hard hats, and work foremen are apt to wear blue, so workers can track them down easily.

Watch out

Road work has hit its summer peak season in Sacramento. Officials say more crews may be out there this month than ever.

On Highway 50 at Watt Avenue, more than 100 workers are laboring on an interchange upgrade.

County crews plan to close the intersection of White Rock and Grant Line roads today through Monday for reconstruction. Caltrans meanwhile is widening Interstate 80 in North Sacramento.

In south Sacramento, the Bruceville Road/Cosumnes River Boulevard area remains a light-rail line construction zone.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is starting levee work that will require night lane closures on Watt near the American River.

Drive carefully past cone zones or vehicles parked on the roadside or this may happen to you:

Pull over

Reader Ray de Lavalette, driving in the slow lane, passed an officer standing on the shoulder next to a stopped car. A minute later the officer pulled de Lavalette over for a few words.

"Don't you think you should have moved over one lane for safe passage? If you are stranded, wouldn't you like it if people move over?"

The officer then let de Lavalette go, but not before letting him know he could have been ticketed.

"What's the ruling on this?" our reader asks.

State law requires drivers to pull over if possible or slow down when passing parked law enforcement vehicles, Caltrans vehicles or ambulances that have lights flashing.

Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.

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