Please make room for roadside crews

When the power goes out, so do the line crews of your local electric cooperative. Lineworkers are the first to respond after an outage occurs, and they work tirelessly to restore power, no matter the time of day or the weather.

Protecting line crews is a top priority for Illinois electric cooperatives, and it’s a safety measure everyone can help with. National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 11-15 and serves as a reminder for drivers to make room for roadside crews. Moving over is not only a good law, but also the courteous thing to do.

Crews already perform dangerous work to keep the lights on. They deserve a work environment that’s as safe as possible. If you’re traveling and see a crew working on the side of the road, please move over if possible and give them extra space to work.

If you approach a crew while traveling on a two-lane road, moving over to the next lane might not be an option. In this case, simply slow down when approaching roadside crews. If you approach a crew while traveling on a four-lane road, and safety and traffic conditions allow, move over into the far lane.

In Illinois, it’s the law. Scott’s Law requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching any vehicle displaying flashing emergency lights, including commercial trucks and cars. Slow down, change lanes, if possible, and always proceed with caution.

Electric utility crews are special cases to watch out for. A study of utility worksite accidents found that the relatively temporary nature of power line repairs could surprise motorists. A roadside construction operation might close a lane for days or weeks, giving time for people familiar with the area to anticipate the changed traffic pattern. Utility work can start and finish in a few hours, possibly raising risks with drivers who might think they know the road ahead.

Another risk to watch for is when worksites are being put up or taken down. Roadside accidents can happen as crews are setting up signs and traffic cones.

Utility crews aren’t the only ones who need extra space. Emergency responders, such as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, often find themselves responding to emergency situations near busy roadways. We ask that you follow the same procedures mentioned above to help keep these crews safe.

There’s plenty of room for all. Let’s work together to keep everyone safe on our local roadways. Don’t drive distracted. Drive according to the conditions of the road. Be courteous to roadside work crews. Watch the signs and obey them. It’s good advice that could save a life.