48 Percent of Homeowners Will Put Themselves and Others at Risk by Not Calling 811 Before Digging
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the organization dedicated to
protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who
dig near them, today announced results from a recent survey that
found 48 percent of American homeowners who plan to dig this year
for projects that include landscaping, installing a fence or
mailbox or building a deck, pond or patio, will put themselves and
communities at risk by not calling 811 to learn the approximate
location of underground utilities.
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground
utilities increases the likelihood of an unintentional damage,
which can cause serious injuries, service disruptions and repair
costs. An underground utility line is damaged every eight minutes
because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according
to CGA data.
There are more than 100 billion feet of underground utilities in
the United States, according to data compiled by CGA from various
industry groups. That figure equates to more than one football
field's length (105 yards) of buried utilities for every man, woman
and child in the U.S.
Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to
a local one call notification center that will take the caller's
information and communicate it to local utility companies.
Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the
approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint
or flags. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to
begin digging around the marked areas.
This national public opinion survey of 624 homeowners, conducted
Feb. 28 - March 5, also found that 85 percent of homeowners would
require a contractor to call 811 before digging on their property,
even though nearly half (48 percent) of the homeowners themselves
would not call 811 in advance of a digging project they would
"The results of this survey are concerning because the math just
doesn't add up in safety's favor," said CGA President Bob Kipp.
"With millions of shovels entering the ground near billions of feet
of unmarked underground utilities this year, we will continue to
see damages occur every few minutes, leading to inconvenient
outages, and in worst-case scenarios bodily harm, not just for the
do-it-yourselfers, but for entire communities."
The survey also identified the top reasons why people who do not
plan to call 811 before digging thought they did not need to make
this phone call. Among survey respondents who plan to dig this year
but don't plan to call, 56 percent said that they felt they already
knew were utilities were buried on their property. 49 percent did
not think they would dig deep enough to come in contact with
utility lines, despite the fact that utilities can sometimes be
just a few inches below the surface due to erosion and other
CGA's 1,500 members, the U.S. Department of Transportation, more
than 30 governors and many mayors have proclaimed April as National
Safe Digging Month as a way to bring extra attention to the issue
and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.
As part of National Safe Digging Month, CGA encourages
homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging
project this spring:
- Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the
depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an
upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location
of lines to be marked.
- Confirm with your local one call center that all lines have
- Learn what the various colors of paint and flags represent at
- Consider moving the location of your project if it is near
utility line markings.
- If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has
been made. Don't allow work to begin if the lines aren't
About Common Ground Alliance (CGA)
CGA is a member-driven association of 1,500 individuals,
organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground
utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving
lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by
promoting effective damage prevention practices. CGA has
established itself as the leading organization in an effort to
reduce damages to underground facilities in North America through
shared responsibility among all stakeholders. For more information,
visit CGA on the web at www.commongroundalliance.com.
About the Study
International Communications Research (ICR) conducted a national
omnibus phone study between Feb. 28 and March 5, 2013,on behalf of
CGA. A total of 624 American homeowners ages 18+ were asked for
their opinions on home and property improvement project topics. The
survey had a margin of error that varied from +-2.2 percent to
+-5.7 percent, depending on the particular survey question.