Young drivers should be aware of hazards

Indiana electric co-ops warn teen drivers to ‘Stay in the Car’

Indiana Electric Cooperatives (IEC) acknowledges the experience young drivers gain by getting behind the wheel and driving, but some dangers cannot be learned from personal “experience.” IEC advises teens to take precautions not only while driving, but most importantly, if they were to get in an accident involving a utility pole. The way they conduct themselves after the accident is the difference between life and death.

“Whenever a power line is involved, even a minor accident can become tragic,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Staying put and warning passersby to stay away, too, cannot be stressed enough. Only after a first responder arrives on scene and says it’s OK, should you get out.”

Staying put may go against a driver’s first inclination, but there are many reasons why staying in the car can save their life. When a power line is struck and falls, it can still be energized. Unlike power cords on appliances we use, overhead power lines are bare strands of twisted metal wire. This means grabbing them, grazing up against one or touching something that is touching them can kill you.

If a power line has fallen onto the car, the electricity is now flowing through and around the car. Once someone gets out of the car and touches the ground, the electricity will begin to flow through that person, which could potentially kill them. Warn those coming to your aid to stay away and to keep a safe distance.

After hitting a utility pole, call 911 for assistance and do not leave the car until first responders say it is safe.