Three bucket trucks on a road with orange safety cones along the center line.

Zone in on safety

Electric linemen put their lives at risk each day, and distracted drivers add even more hazards to an already dangerous job.

It’s always important to drive fully focused; however, drivers should pay special attention when approaching work zones. Slow down and refrain from any activity that would otherwise distract from driving. When it comes to utility work zones, many drivers don’t realize linemen are working with live power lines or equipment.

Most people know that working with high voltage power lines and electric equipment is dangerous work, but when they get in their own vehicle, they can forget. Add to that texting, reading the newspaper, or a number of other distractions, and that can spell disaster.

Cell phones play a huge role in distracted driving. If you use it to talk, text or browse while driving, you’re 23 times more likely to be in an accident. Just because a vehicle is Wi-Fi enabled doesn’t mean you should use it while driving and a hands-free call is still a bad idea. Plus, using a cell phone while driving in Illinois is illegal.

Be sure to slow down when approaching a work zone. Frenzied drivers or drivers of big rigs going too fast could also brush or rattle a utility truck. Even the slightest movement could cause a line worker up in a bucket to move a few feet, putting his or her life in jeopardy while working on equipment that can carry high voltages.

Some utilities now use cameras mounted on work zone cones to gather information about car speeds, driver behavior and work zone conditions. There are more outdoor cameras everywhere, so a driver not following the law is likely to be caught and may face serious consequences.

Utility crews are not the only workers putting their lives on the line. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

  • One work zone crash occurs every 5.4 minutes
  • 70 work zone crashes result in injuries each day
  • 12 work zone crashes result in fatalities each week

Before leaving home, be sure to research your route, and when possible, avoid any work zones and use detours. Use your phone settings to automatically advise others you are driving and can’t respond. In addition, Safe Electricity reminds you to take the following steps to save lives and avoid accidents:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings, including others you share the road with.
  2. Pay attention and stay focused. Always keep your eyes on the road, especially in work zones. Be aware of all orange directional signs. Avoid distractions such as using your cell phone, eating/drinking, adjusting the radio, using GPS, and conversing with passengers.
  3. Slow down when entering a work zone where lane closures, traffic pattern shifts and reduced speeds are expected.
  4. When approaching a work zone, move into the open lane as soon as possible. Watch for vehicles that could be in your blind spot.
  5. Rear-end crashes are extremely common in work zones, so keep your distance. Maintain extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you and do not cut off any driver, especially long vehicles such as a semi-trailer or bus.

Safe Electricity reminds you that distracted driving injures and kills utility crews and other workers who put themselves in danger every day by sharing their workspace with vehicles on the road.

There isn’t a text or a phone call that is worth it. Remember to zone in on safety and save lives. For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

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