"Stop trashing California."
That's the message from Caltrans to drivers across the state.
In honor of Statewide Litter Day, Caltrans is asking drivers to put their trash where it belongs, not on the side of the road.
Caltrans said even though fewer people have been driving, they're still seeing a lot of litter along our highways.
Tuesday in Emerald Hills, members of the Emerald Hills Neighborhood Council and the Caltrans Veterans Outreach Project joined Caltrans workers to clean up the area along SR-94 and Kelton Road.
Within minutes, they filled several large trash bags and carted out a toilet.
Much of the trash is the result of littering and illegal dumping, but Caltrans said a lot of large items, like mattresses, end up scattered on the shoulder because they aren't properly secured.
California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Salvador Castro said the debris is not only an environmental hazard, but a potential danger to other drivers.
"You have, you know, a flat tire, you're going off the freeway, next thing you know, you have a big piece of debris on the right shoulder and now that driver has to drive a little forward to get to the right shoulder with a flat tire, posing a bigger risk for him," Castro said.
It also poses a risk to the CHP officers who pull over to help.
And, it's costly.
Caltrans said a lot of time and money is spent cleaning up California's highways each year -- time and money that could otherwise be spent filling potholes and fixing guardrails.