Work zones are among the most dangerous places for utility workers, police officers, road construction crews and any job that finds itself working along or in roadways.
We emphasize safety above all else here at the cooperative, but we also understand that some things are beyond our control. That's where you come in.
Did you know that in Iowa, an average of seven people were killed each year between 2012 and 2021 in work zone related accidents? Nationwide, that number is almost 700 deaths. Excessive speeding is the primary cause of injuries and death, along with distracted driving, failure to yield the right-of-way, and following too close.
The safety of our line crew is our top priority, but we also need drivers to follow the rules of the road when it comes to driving through work zones, mainly:
1. Move over and slow down. A few years ago, Iowa updated its statute to include electric utility trucks. This means when you see one of our co-op trucks parked along the side of the road with its lights flashing, you MUST make room and slow down or be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
2. Pay attention to signs that indicate you must merge or that there are workers along or in the roadway. Better yet, use an app like Iowa 5-1-1 to check your travel route before you leave and see where there may be road closures or detours due to construction.
3. Be cognizant of other drivers and give them plenty of room. We all know that getting caught in a slow-moving traffic line through a work zone can be frustrating, particularly if we are running late. Try to be patient and remember that arriving safely is better than not arriving at all.
This year, National Work Zone Awareness Week will be April 17-21. For more than 20 years, this national campaign has demonstrated the importance of work zone safety and spread the message that everyone plays a role in getting roadway workers - and our utility crews - home safely.
When out working, our crews will be wearing highly reflective clothing for better visibility and our trucks will have lights flashing, day or night. As required by law, we will have cones set out around our trucks and signs placed well in advance of the work area indicating there is a work zone coming up.
Work zone incidents impact everyone. Your driving habits can directly help - or harm - the well-being of other motorists, cyclists, utility workers and pedestrians in addition to yourself. By working with us, we can keep everyone safe.