As the weather warms up, Illinois American Water joins federal, state and local transportation officials in drawing attention to the safety needs of people working and traveling in and near Illinois roads.
This week, March 23 through 27, marks National Work Zone Awareness Week, an annual spring campaign at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones.
Illinois American Water serves customers in 128 Illinois communities. Its employees work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure water service. Illinois American Water employees maintain approximately 29,000 fire hydrants, plus thousands of miles of water main including critical valves and meters — much of this infrastructure is located in or right next to streets and highways. Illinois American Water crews also fix and repair water main breaks, which often put them in situations where road lane closures are necessary.
All of these tasks have the potential to put the utility’s employees in or near the roads, and working safely is always at the forefront of operating procedures. When motorists see an Illinois American Water employee performing flagging duties they can rest assured knowing the employee has been trained and certified according to Illinois Department of Transportation guidelines, and is focusing on protecting the public as well as the job site.
“As the pace picks up during construction season, we want to remind drivers that their safety, and the safety of our crews, depends on drivers’ focus and attention,” Vice President of Operations Barry Suits said.
Illinois American Water recommends the following work zone awareness week tips.
- Stay alert – dedicate your full attention to the road and don’t use your cellphone.
- Follow signs – they’ll guide you through work zones safely
- Pay attention – watch for flaggers, workers and equipment
- Be patient – remember we are improving your water system
- Buckle up – every trip and every time – safety belts save lives
- Never drink and drive – no impairment is acceptable
- Be nice – merge as directed, don’t tailgate or speed and don’t change lanes in a work zone
According to the state of Illinois, on average, there are more than 5,900 work zone motor vehicle crashes per year in Illinois resulting in 1,850 injuries and 27 fatalities with an average of three worker fatalities (IDOT, 2014). Illinois American Water believes that one death is too many and all of these accidents are preventable. Please take the Work Zone Safety Pledge at www.embracetheorange.com.