As director of safety at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, I routinely conduct safety visits and site inspections for Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives. As I talk with lineworkers, there’s one big safety concern that always comes up: They are worried about being hit by motorists when working near roadways. You can play a major role in keeping lineworkers safe on the road by moving over and slowing down.
The recent Iowa derecho showed us all the power of Mother Nature, and it served as a strong reminder of the important work lineworkers undertake. Over the next several months, you may see more electric cooperative line crews along roadways as they work to make permanent system repairs from the storm.
Please keep these timely safety reminders top of mind this fall:
Slow moving vehicles
As farmers transport equipment to the fields for harvest season, be prepared to reduce speed quickly. Remember that slow moving vehicles may have blind spots that make it difficult to see you, and many can’t go any faster than 25 or 30 miles per hour. Remain patient and wait for a clear line of sight before passing.
Approach rural intersections and railroad crossings obstructed by tall corn with caution. Wet weather and smaller vehicles like ATVs can hold down the dust on gravel roads, so don’t solely rely on dust trails. Approach uncontrolled intersections blinded by crops as a stop sign.
Move over or slow down
Iowa has a move over or slow down law that says motorists must move over or slow down if they approach any vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its flashing lights activated. Even with this law in place, our lineworkers still encounter drivers who are distracted or simply fail to give them room on the road to work safely. Get in the habit of moving over and slowing down every time you see a stopped vehicle on the side of the road. Iowa’s lineworkers and their families thank you; their jobs are dangerous enough already.
Stop for school buses
Many students are back in school, which means you’re going to encounter school buses. Follow these rules on two- or three-lane roads:
• Approaching the bus from the rear: When you see flashing red or amber warning lights, you are not permitted to pass the school bus. Stop no closer than 15 feet from the rear of the bus and remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted and the school bus starts moving again. Proceed with caution.
• Meeting the bus from the front: When you see amber warning lights flashing, you must slow your vehicle to no more than 20 mph and be prepared to stop. Stop in front of the school bus when the school bus stops and its stop arm is extended. Remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted. Proceed with caution.
Scott Meinecke is the director of safety and loss control at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.