Driving Safety Blog: When a Car Tangles with Power Lines
Defensive driving requires education and constant awareness of circumstances. Driving during winter months is especially tricky. Snow, ice and wind create the potential for additional hazards on the road. If your area is experiencing severe weather, venture out only when necessary.
Slick roads can cause loss of control, and power poles are struck in thousands of accidents each year. Drive slowly when navigating icy roads and keep your eye out for signs of damaged electrical equipment like a downed power line. If you see a line down on the road, do not drive over it. This could pull the pole and other equipment to the ground. Turn back and call 9-1-1.
In the event of an accident with a power pole, the safest place is inside your vehicle. Stay inside your car and call 9-1-1 right away. Although your first instinct may be to get out if you can, this could be a deadly mistake. Stay in the car until the electric utility arrives and ensures the line is de-energized.
Even without sparks or fire, a downed line can be energized and dangerous. If you step from the car and the line is energized, you provide a path to the ground for the deadly electricity, creating a current flow that can kill. The only reason you should get out of the vehicle is if it is on fire, which happens very rarely. If you must get out, the correct action is to jump free of the vehicle with your feet together, and keeping them together, hop or shuffle to safety.
If you see a car accident, remember to first survey the area to see if any electrical equipment has been damaged before approaching and offering assistance. Resist your instincts to get out of the car and assess the damage if a power pole is involved.
Warn others to stay back from the scene of an accident and keep your distance from any debris near the downed line. The electricity from damaged electrical equipment can energize surrounding objects as well.
To learn more about auto accident and power line safety, see this story of a real-life accident where knowledge prevented tragedy.