Make room for roadside crews

When the winds blow and storms roll across our area, you might be more alert and expectant to see our line crews on the side of the road working to restore power. But do you expect to see them roadside on a bright and sunny day?

To maintain our 5,000 plus miles of line, CAEC’s crews and contractors work not only during storms, but on clear days as well, a time when you might find yourself more easily distracted while driving. To help make our roadways safer for drivers, utility workers, emergency responders and maintenance personnel, The National Safety Council (NSC) observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This recognition draws attention to the dangers of not having your full attention on the road around you.

One of the leading causes of distracted driving is motorists being preoccupied by mobile devices—causing 1.6 million crashes and 330,000 injuries each year according to the National Safety Council. To help combat this issue, Alabama bans texting while driving for all motorists and cell phone use for novice drivers (age 16 to 17) with fines and punishments for those caught breaking these laws. Additionally, in 2009, Alabama passed a law (Move-Over Act) designed to protect law individuals who are conducting business on Alabama’s roadways.

In addition to these laws, CAEC personnel take safety precautions to make drivers aware of their presence, including signs to warn motorists they are in the vicinity, such as cones around vehicles at the work site, rotating and flashing yellow lights and reflective traffic vests. If you approach a crew while traveling on a two-lane road, moving over to the next lane might not be an option. In this case, slow down when approaching roadside crews. If you approach a crew while traveling on a four-lane road, and safety and traffic conditions allow, you should move over into the far lane.

Also, remember these tips whenever you’re behind the wheel:

  • Drive without reading or sending texts, email, using the internet or social media of any kind.
  • Wait to text or call others until they have stopped driving and stop texting or end a phone call with others if you learn they are driving.
  • Utilize Bluetooth technology to either conduct your phone calls or to send an auto reply text message to inform those texting you that you are driving and cannot respond.
  • If driving with a passenger, ask him or her to text or make calls for you.
  • When alone, turn your cell phone off before starting to drive.
  • Pull over to a safe location to eat or apply make-up—these can prove just as distracting as a cell phone.
  • If you are the passenger of a distracted driver, point out the danger of his/her action and offer to help with the task.

There’s plenty of room for all. Let’s work together to keep everyone safe on our local roadways.