Ensuring the safety of the public and our team is critical for us at Powell Valley Electric Cooperative. Electricity is important, but it can also be dangerous. Among our highest priorities is providing our employees who work tirelessly to keep the lights on with the training, equipment and resources needed to do their jobs safely.

Despite our best efforts, one of the greatest threats to their safety is something that is outside our control. That’s where you come in. I want to address a critical issue that impacts the safety of our workers: the importance of moving over when driving past a roadside utility crew.

Did you know that in Tennessee and Virginia it is not just a recommendation but a state law to move over when passing a utility crew working on the side of the road? This law is in place to protect the lives of those who maintain and repair our electrical infrastructure.

Beyond being a legal requirement, it is also a matter of common courtesy and basic human decency.

Unfortunately, despite these laws and the ongoing efforts to raise awareness, roadside utility workers continue to be at risk of injury or death due to passing vehicles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, 30 workers are killed each year in the U.S. after being struck by passing vehicles while working on or near roadways. These are not just numbers; they represent husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters whose lives have been tragically cut short.

In addition to the lives lost, many more utility workers are injured every year in similar incidents. These injuries can have lasting effects on their physical and mental well-being, not to mention the impact on their families and loved ones.

We all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of those who work to provide essential services, including electricity. Moving over when passing a roadside utility crew is a simple yet powerful way to show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

The next time you see utility crews working on the side of the road, please remember to move over if it is safe to do so. Slow down, pay attention and give them the space they need to work safely. Let’s work together to protect the lives of our utility workers and ensure they safely return home to their families at the end of the day.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and thank you to our utility workers for all they do to keep our communities powered and connected.

— Brad Coppock