Community Commitment
April 15, 2024

National Work Zone Awareness Week: Move over to keep roadway workers safe

Simple tips for keeping everyone safe when you encounter a work zone

You know to slow down and pull over when you’re on the road and see the flashing lights of a stopped fire truck, ambulance, patrol car or other emergency vehicle. But do you know what to do when you see orange cones, yellow tape or other signs of work on the side of a highway or other busy roadway? 
The Federal Highway Administration continues to see a steady increase in the number of traffic fatalities that take place each year in work zones; in 2021, the Administration noted an increase in nearly 100 work zone fatalities from 2020’s total. Of 2021’s 874 total fatalities, 353 took place on interstates, 423 on arterial routes and 17 on local streets. From emergency workers to construction workers, people may find themselves put in danger of a deadly or life-changing contact with a speeding vehicle or distracted driver each time they do their jobs. 
That risk is especially present for workers who keep power on. Because power lines often run alongside major roads and highways, stopping to inspect a pole, repair a line or do any other work along a roadway can become a harrowing situation. Employees who are already focused on the dangers of electricity, sometimes in extreme weather, may also have to contend with the dangers of speedy traffic and distracted drivers, especially during rush hour or heavy use times. 
That’s why Xcel Energy joins other energy companies and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) each year in marking National Work Zone Awareness Week. The week is a time to honor those killed in traffic accidents while working alongside roadways and educate the public about the importance of slowing down and moving over when they see work being done.  
As ATSSA notes: “Work zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.” This year, Work Zone Awareness Week runs from April 15-19 and represents a time to be extra mindful of how we travel in our vehicles, especially when we see workers along the shoulder or in blocked-off lanes. Roadway safety professionals across the country are encouraged to participate in a special annual Go Orange Day, this year on Wednesday, April 17, in which they wear orange to show their support of work zone safety. 

One way you can participate? When you see an Xcel Energy or other maintenance, construction or emergency vehicle along the side of the road, follow these safe driving guidelines: 

  1. 1. Slow down when you see flashing lights, road cones or flares, signs announcing work underway, parked work vehicles or other signs of activity along roadways. 

  1. 2. If possible, safely move over to an adjacent lane. If you’re on a single-lane road, move over as far as you safely can without going into the shoulder. Offering workers a clear buffer can help prevent an accident, and let workers know you’re aware they’re there. 

  1. 3. If you can’t move over, reduce your speed to 20 miles per hour below the posted limit as you move by a work zone. 

  1. 4. Never use a mobile device while operating a vehicle, no matter where or how fast you’re traveling.