Most drivers know to slow down or move over when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. They understand that police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel are putting their lives on the line for the public’s safety and respect them enough to slow down and move over.
Unfortunately, the same respect is not always given to the utility and construction workers repairing our roads and restoring our electric and natural gas service, even though they are also putting their lives on the line for the public good.
Most states have passed move-over laws protecting workers by requiring motorists slow down and merge away from a vehicle working on the side of the road. Many drivers are unaware that the law in their state protects utility workers (including most states where Xcel Energy operates), and they could receive a ticket for not moving over or reducing their speed significantly when passing them. The safety of the men and women who ensure you have reliable electric and natural gas service is in your hands.
During Work Zone Awareness Week, April 9-13, Xcel Energy and the American Traffic Safety Services Association are raising awareness about this important topic. This annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season encourages safe driving through highway work zones. Xcel Energy is supporting this effort by promoting its own move over-themed video on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (see video below).
One of our Minnesota lineman, Kellen Schmidt, is so passionate about the safety of his coworkers that he is spearheading an effort by Xcel Energy to get legislation passed during the current session that would require drivers to slow down on two-lane roads when approaching police, fire, ambulance, construction and utility workers.
So, when you see an Xcel Energy vehicle (or other emergency, construction or maintenance vehicle) working on the side of the road, please give them a break and follow these safe actions:
- Slow down as you approach the work zone
- When possible, safely move over to provide workers with a clear buffer lane from traffic
- If you can’t move over safely, reduce your speed to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit as you pass the work zone
- Never use your mobile device while operating a vehicle
At the end of the day, we all want to go home safely to our families. So, please, move over for Xcel Energy work crews.