|Road Safety Tips for Teenaged Drivers|
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Safe Electricity offers information for young drivers this summer
Summer break is often the perfect opportunity for teenagers to take driver’s education courses. It is also the time of year when many young drivers are out on the roads more frequently driving to and from summer jobs, across town to hang out with friends, or even on road trips. Unfortunately, this new found independence can be dangerous and even fatal.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people in the United States between the ages of 15-20. Safe Electricity urges caution and awareness of electrical hazards while driving. As part of the “Teach Learn Care TLC” campaign, Safe Electricity urges parents to share this information with their children.
When young people are first learning to drive, they revel in their new independence and often forget about the responsibility that accompanies it. Unfortunately, traffic collision rates and subsequent fatalities for their age group are disproportionally high. Safe Electricity is hoping many deaths can be prevented by raising awareness of electrical road hazards through driver’s education materials.
The CDC cites several reasons why young adults are more likely to be involved in motor accidents. For starters, they are less able than older drivers to recognize hazardous situations. They are also more likely to speed and drive while intoxicated, or ride with those who are. Any time factors like these come into play the chances of hitting utility poles with a vehicle, and subsequently bringing down power lines, increase dramatically.
Four Indiana teenagers found themselves in this dangerous situation last February. After colliding with a power pole, a power line fell on the vehicle they were traveling in. Fortunately, some of them had just attended a power line safety demonstration at their high school.
Lee Whittaker, one of the students involved in the crash, credits their survival to timely electrical safety education.
“I made sure everyone else was okay and made sure I was okay. I told them not to get out,” Whittaker said. “That was the main thing repeated during the program. You should not get out of a vehicle if you’re in an accident involving power lines.”
If you must get out because of fire or other danger, jump clear of the vehicle without touching it and the ground at the same time. Then hop with feet together -- don't run or stride. Electricity spreads out through the ground in ripples, like a stone dropped in water. The voltage is highest in the ring closest to the vehicle and decreases with distance. Hop with feet together so that one foot won't be in a higher voltage zone than another, which could make you a conductor for electricity!
If the power line is still energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path for that electricity and electrocution is the tragic result. Even if a power line has landed on the ground, there is still the potential for the area near your car to be energized. Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire. It’s best to wait until local electric utility crews arrive to make sure power to the line is cut off.
If you come upon, or witness an accident involving toppled power poles and lines, don’t leave your vehicle to approach the accident scene.
Often our inclination is to step in and help those in danger and offer assistance to the injured. However, in accidents involving power poles, the best thing you can do is call for help. Wait for trained assistance to arrive, or you could become an additional victim in need of rescue.