Give Road Crews a Break


May 30, 2014


Safety advocates and union members are calling on drivers to pay attention and prioritize safety around road work sites.
Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user Grand Canyon National Park

As you get ready to hit the highway this summer, crews working on or near roads have a request: slow down and stay alert.


Nearly 10 percent of all construction fatalities are the result of accidents on road work sites – a scary number for electrical workers who often find themselves performing road side maintenance and repair. In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 609 people died in highway work-zone crashes – an increase of 19 fatalities compared to 2011 reports the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Last year, Michigan alone saw more than 4,000 construction zone and utility-related crashes.

On May 23, a coalition of more than a dozen corporations, state agencies and lawmakers and unions came together to make roadside safety awareness a top priority for travelers.

“We want every one of our members to return safety home to their families at the end of the day, but we need the public’s help when it comes to work zone safety,” said Lansing Local 352 Business Manager Ron Byrnes.

“Drivers need to focus, obey the work zone signs and warning lights, and slow down as they go around people working in and along roadways.”

The issue hits home for IBEW members in the Wolverine State.

In 2012, journeyman line worker Jeffrey Creel, a father of four, was struck and killed by a motorist while responding to a downed power line.

“I’ve been in this industry for more than 30 years,” DTE Energy Vice President Vince Dow told “Sadly, I have lost co-workers in their efforts to provide energy to the public we serve. I have also been threatened by passing vehicles and dangerous situations and I can tell you that the memory of these things says with me.”

Creel’s wife was at the May 23 event.

Safety experts offer the following tips to help give road workers a break

  • Watch for signs and orange cones indicating road work

  • Slow down – follow the posted speed

  • Pay attention – don’t be distracted by cell phones or the radio

  • Stay patient and courteous

  • Expect the unexpected

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