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In October 2018, three linemen were killed from another utility company in Florida while working to restore electricity in an area that had been ravaged by Hurricane Michael a few weeks prior.
Electricity is a dangerous thing to work with, but none of these men were killed by an electrical contact. Instead, they were killed when they were hit by the driver of a Ford truck and Uhaul trailer as they made repairs on power poles in a roadside bar ditch.
Their deaths were a sad reminder of another peril lineworkers face: distracted and dangerous driving.
Work Zone Awareness Week is April 8-12 this year, and we encourage members to be especially mindful when driving through work zones. Avoid all distractions, slow down and give workers plenty of space. Crews take precautions to make their workplace safer; we should do the same as we drive by.
We all know our focus should be on the road when we are driving—there should be no phones, no stereo adjustments and no substances that could impair our judgement. Unfortunately, distractions often enter the picture. These distractions don’t only endanger the lives of the driver and their passengers, but also the lives of those driving on the road with them and any crews who may be working in the area.
Take steps to minimize distractions every time you drive. Avoid adjusting the stereo system. Set your phone to do not disturb mode, and put it in the backseat so you are not even tempted to look at it.
Follow the Move Over law when you see something or someone on the side of the road. Originally passed in 2003, it requires motorists to move over a lane, or slow down, when certain vehicles—including police, fire, TxDOT and tow trucks—are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. To be extra cautious, make it a habit to do the same when you see utility crews working on the side of the road.
Together, we can all make our communities safer.