Now it's even easier to be responsible. At a press conference on May 1, 2007, on the National Mall, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) joined with the Federal Communications Commission, the Associated General Contractors of America, John Deere, The Travelers Companies Inc. and Cox Communications to ceremonially connect 811, the new national “Call Before You Dig” 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 Mary E. Peters, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, who was in attendance at the event.

The FCC designated the 811 number in 2005 at the direction of an act of Congress in 2002. According to the CGA, 46 percent of Americans are actively digging, and there are 700,000 underground utility damages per year, which means there is more than one unintentional hit per minute.

The event kicked off a national public education campaign 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.

“We believe the new 811 number will encourage more people to have their lines marked to protect themselves, their neighbors and their community,” said Bob Kipp, CGA president.

Historically, people could contact 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. However, the current statistics on One Call Centers show the majority of Americans are not using this service.

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