Government and Industry Officials Launch National Three-Digit “Call Before You Dig” Telephone Number

"Now that there is a single number to call, any time, there’s no excuse for putting lives at risk by striking a utility line," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters. "If 911 is the number you call to report emergencies, 811 is the number to call to prevent them."

The 811 number was designated by the  FCC in 2005 at the direction of an Act of Congress in 2002. Its creation was supported by more than fifteen industry stakeholder groups who encouraged its development and creation and now promote its use nationwide.

To ensure that all Americans know and use 811, today’s event on "America’s Front Yard" also kicked off a national public education campaign, which will use an educational Web site (, television and radio PSAs, industry and consumer outreach, and local events to raise awareness of the new number and demonstrate its relevance to consumers and professionals who conduct digging activities. Additionally, the campaign’s national launch partners and promotional sponsors will promote the new number through a variety of tactics designed to leverage the grassroots power of their customers, clients and members, creating awareness and positive behavioral change among those most likely to dig.

"Knowing the approximate locations of where utility lines are buried before each digging project helps protect America’s pipelines, industry and people," said CGA President Bob Kipp. "We believe the new 811 number will encourage more people to have their lines marked to protect themselves, their neighbors and their community."

Nationwide, risky assumptions about the location of underground utility lines, which are buried at various depths below the ground, lead to more than one unintentional hit per minute every day, every year. Even simple digging jobs can damage utility lines and disrupt vital services to an entire neighborhood, harm those who dig, and result in expensive fines and repair costs. 

Digging accidents can help be prevented with a call to the local One Call Center, a service that contacts appropriate utility companies who then visibly mark the approximate locations of their lines with paint or flags before a caller begins a digging project. Unfortunately, the current statistics on One Call Centers show that the majority of Americans are not using this service. According to a recent CGA study, while 46 percent of Americans are active diggers who have done or plan to do a digging project at home, only 33 percent of do-it-yourselfers plan on calling before they dig, which means they are taking a huge risk each time their shovel disturbs the dirt. 

Created to eliminate the confusion of multiple "Call Before You Dig" numbers across the country and to be an easy-to-remember resource, 811 will make it easier for Americans to call before attempting any digging project, whether it be something small like planting a tree or installing a mailbox or a larger project like building an addition or deck. This quick and efficient one call service notifies the appropriate local utilities, which then send locators or locate technicians to the requested site to mark the approximate location of underground lines.

At today’s event, CGA officials joined with Secretary Peters, and national launch partners the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), John Deere, The Travelers Companies, Inc., and Cox Communications to officially activate 811 and set off a larger-than-life ticker that immediately began "counting" the calls being placed to 811. On average, more than 28 calls are placed to One Call Centers every minute in the United States. Also at the event, the national launch partners unveiled the programs they will employ to educate the public about the importance of calling 811 before each digging job.

"AGC plans to leverage our extensive professional contractor chapter network to support the launch of 811," said Steve Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America.  "In addition to conducting a survey to identify best safe digging practices among professional general contractors nationwide, we will also offer a cash prize to the AGC chapter that does the best job at getting the word out about 811 in their area."

"Since our founding in 1837, John Deere has been devoted to protecting the safety of our customers," said Bob Brock, senior vice president, sales and marketing, John Deere Construction and Forestry. "John Deere intends to deliver the 811 message over one billion times in the coming year through written word and via our Web sites.  We are committed to ensuring that all Americans use this new life-saving resource every time they dig."

"Travelers has been dedicated to delivering risk management solutions for more than 100 years," said Todd Bateson, Travelers Construction President. "We pride ourselves on staying in-synch with our customers’ evolving exposures, and are committed to getting the word out about 811. The 811 message will be included in Travelers billing statements, newsletters and Web sites, which reach more than three million individuals, in the hopes that everyone, whether contractor or homeowner, will call before they dig."  

"Cox Communications will spread the important message in our markets nationwide that dialing 811 is the right call to protect yourself and your neighbors from the many potential consequences of digging without first getting your underground lines marked," said Ellen East, vice president of communications and public affairs at Cox, which is donating more than $200,000 in airtime to advertising the 811 campaign.

In addition to the national launch partners, promotional sponsors such as Yellow Book USA, the Electrical Safety Foundation International, Equipment Now, the Hispanic Contractors Association of Georgia, the Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas, and the Industrial Fabrics Association International will be educating the public about the importance of calling 811 by: including the 811 logo and messaging in advertising, newsletter and training materials; posting web links; mobilizing their membership bases to use 811 messaging with their customers; running the PSAs; distributing information at trade shows and conferences; conducting outreach to local media; running voicemail and direct mail campaigns; and participating in public events.

For more information about the 811 service, campaign, and a new national survey on consumer digging habits, visit

About CGA and Its Partners

CGA is a member-driven association of nearly 1,400 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 American 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

The Department of Transportation was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966; the Department’s first official day of operation was April 1, 1967. The mission of the Department is to "Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future."

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the largest and oldest national construction trade association in the United States. AGC represents more than 32,000 firms, including 7,000 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 11,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC through a nationwide network of chapters. Visit the AGC Web site at  AGC members are "Building Your Quality of Life."

John Deere (Deere & Company – NYSE: DE) is the world’s leading provider of advanced products and services for agriculture and forestry and a major provider of advanced products and services for construction, lawn and turf care, landscaping and irrigation. John Deere also provides financial services worldwide and manufactures and markets engines used in heavy equipment. Since it was founded in 1837, the company has extended its heritage of integrity, quality, commitment and innovation around the globe.

The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance and surety products and of risk management services to a wide variety of businesses and organizations and to individuals. The company reported 2006 revenues of $25.1 billion and total assets of $113.8 billion. Their products are distributed primarily through U.S. independent insurance agents and brokers. Travelers is the second largest writer of auto and homeowners insurance through independent agents. Travelers is headquartered in Saint Paul, Minn., with significant operations in Hartford, Conn. The company also has offices in the U.K., Ireland and Canada.

Cox Communications is a multi-service broadband communications and entertainment company with more than 6 million total residential and commercial customers. The third-largest cable television company in the United States, Cox offers an array of advanced digital video, high-speed Internet and telephony services over its own nationwide IP network, as well as integrated wireless services in partnership with Sprint (NYSE: S). Cox Business Services is a full-service, facilities-based provider of communications solutions for commercial customers, providing high-speed Internet, voice and long distance services, as well as data and video transport services for small to large-sized businesses. Cox Media offers national and local cable advertising in traditional spots and new media formats, along with promotional opportunities and production services. More information about the services of Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at, and