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Safety Tip: When a Vehicle Crashes into a Utility Pole

  • Posted: 09.14.2017

The National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives has created a short video to demonstrate how to stay safe if a vehicle comes into contact with a downed power line. Watch this video to find out why staying in the vehicle is generally the best option. If you must jump from of a burning vehicle, learn the best way to do so. Also, find out why shuffling away from the scene can keep you safe. 

Car accidents are scary experiences. After the trauma of a car accident, your first instinct may be to leave the car. If you are involved in an accident with power poles or power lines, the safest place after an accident is inside the car. Safe Electricity wants you to know how to stay safe if you get into such an accident. 

Power equipment is extremely dangerous,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “Overhead lines are not insulated, and equipment is not necessarily de-energized if it comes down or is damaged.

This past spring, Mathew Emery’s pickup truck crashed into a utility pole in rural Illinois. A 34,500-volt transmission line was on top of his truck, and a 7,200-volt distribution line was suspended about 3 feet above the ground just outside his door. He stayed safe by staying in his vehicle until help arrived.

Power equipment can be damaged, or come down after an accident. If you leave your car, you are stepping into danger. Power lines carry high voltage electricity. After an accident, your car and the surrounding area can become energized. Even if you do not touch lines or equipment, you can still be killed or seriously injured. Electricity looks for a path to the ground. If electricity uses you as the path to ground, you will receive a severe, possibly fatal shock.

After an accident, stay in the car, and tell others to do the same. Call emergency and utility services. Do not leave your vehicle until a utility professional has told you it is safe to do so. If a good Samaritan tries to approach the accident, warn them to stay away.

The only reason you should exit the vehicle is if it is on fire. If this is the case, jump free of the vehicle with your feet together, and continue to shuffle away with your feet together as far as you can. A difference in voltage between your two feet can cause electrocution. (Source: