FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Farmworkers now have a safer option when it comes to transportation to and from work thanks to a new partnership. On Tuesday morning in Downtown Fresno, the US Department of Labor and the California Vanpool Authority reached a memorandum of understanding that provides a safer transportation option for farmworkers.
Calvans are now easily available statewide to farmworkers and their employers.
"Very often they transport them in unsafe vehicles, you know, vehicles that have bald tires, are not insured, sometimes drivers don't have licenses, and so, it is a very safe situation," said Juan Coria, U.S. Department of Labor.
The vans are registered and each driver has a valid license and insurance. They even have storage for water when workers are out in the fields. The Department of Labor has been cracking down on vans without seatbelts or proper seats, but this will help them spread awareness on transportation safety.
"As an agency, we are well aware of some of the factors that are contributing to this problem, and so, we feel that we have a responsibility to be a part of the solution," said Coria.
Jessica Bolanos hopes the partnership will prevent tragedies like the one that hit her family. Back in June of 2015, she lost her 16-year-old daughter Corrine when the farmworker van she was riding in flipped over on Highway 152 near Los Banos in Merced County. Bolanos said there were no seatbelts in the van and the driver did not have a license.
"I think the program is great-- I wish it had been offered to her. I hope that it is offered, I hope it is available for everybody."
Bolanos said she didn't know of any transportation rights or the availability of Calvans for farmworkers until after her daughter's death.
"If my daughter would have been in this van, even if it did crash, she would have had a better chance. There would have been seatbelts. There would have been-- you know what I mean-- more of a change than what she got."
The Employment, Education, and Outreach have a phone number for farmworkers to call so they can know their rights which is 1-877-55- AYUDA (877-552-9832)
And the cost of Calvans is paid for by user fees. From more info, click here.