Every 9 minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first contacting 811.
To remind everyone to make that call a few days before any residential or commercial digging project, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recognizes April as National Safe Digging Month. Resources are also available by state level at the 811 center website, Call811.com.
“Whether you’re doing construction on your property or simply putting in a new mailbox, digging without contacting 811 can have serious consequences for your family and community,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This National Safe Digging Month, and every month, remember to always contact 811 before you dig.”
In 2005, 811 became the national one-call number connecting homeowners, contractors, and other professionals to state call centers to arrange the marking of underground utilities in areas for any planned digging projects. Since 2007, governors across the country officially proclaimed April as Safe Digging Month to reduce damage to underground utilities caused by digging. State laws also require contacting 811 at least two days prior to beginning any digging project, no matter how large or small.
For those who dig racing, this year PHMSA has formed strategic communication partnerships with NASCAR and the National Volunteer Fire Council to increase awareness about the importance of contacting 811 before digging. The “Call 811” message will be displayed on NASCAR vehicles, fire and pit crew suits, and other placements in more than 30 races during the 2023 season of the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This Saturday, April 15 in Henry County, VA, Martinsville Speedway will host the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series spring race, the Call811.com Before You Dig 250.
“The partnership between Call811.com and Martinsville Speedway is one we really value,” said Clay Campbell, President of Martinsville Speedway. “Their mission of worksite safety regarding digging projects provides protection for all communities nationwide, including our own. We’re pleased to support the Call811.com message and welcome them back to our spring race weekend.”
Additionally, the National Volunteer Fire Council will promote free excavation damage incident training resources to first responders through a 30-second ad on streaming service Spotify.
“Incidents caused by unsafe digging put workers, the public, and first responders at risk—that’s why we’re partnering with NASCAR and states from across the country to raise the public’s awareness about this important safety issue,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown.
The most recent version of the Common Ground Alliance’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) report identified more than 192,000 damages to underground facilities caused by unsafe digging in 2021.
PHMSA awarded nearly $2.8 million through its State Damage Prevention Grant and One Call Grant programs in 2022 to help support damage prevention efforts at the state level.