A closer look at locate data from one excavator indicated that about 30% of tickets received response codes from all operators on time with no problems, and also noted telecom as the most frequent late responders. This data also indicated that some positive response codes were dubious, such as unsuccessful attempts to contact the excavator, agreed-upon due date extensions and completed markings when none were present.
More consistent data collection across states and 811 centers would enable better analysis of this issue. Further research on late locates is needed to fully understand their impact – but current evidence shows timely, truthful facility locating is fundamental to preventing underground utility hits and restoring confidence in the entire system. Clear communication, accountability via enforcement and contracts with third-party locators, and technologies promoting real-time status updates are key to solving chronic lateness issues.