Dealing with downed power lines after a car crash

It happens 3,000 times per year: a vehicle slams into an electric power pole somewhere in Illinois. In some cases, the driver of a car will lose control of the vehicle and crash into a power pole. In other cases, the pole is hit as part of a motor vehicle accident involving two or more vehicles.

A power company spokesperson recently said that after a person crashes into a power pole, their first impulse is to get out of the vehicle. The spokesperson said that first impulse should be ignored. He said that it’s safer to stay in the vehicle and wait for first responders and power company workers to arrive and give you the okay to exit your car safely.

Not only are drivers and passengers at risk of serious injury in a crash involving a power pole, but they are in even greater danger of injury if they get out of the vehicle. “Those wires come down. Most of the time they’re energized or they are a live wire, which could cause a safety incident,” said an Ameren Illinois spokesperson.

The safest place after an accident involving a power pole is inside the vehicle. The auto and the ground can be energized after a crash, even when the downed lines might appear to be dead.

“We’ve had several incidents in central Illinois, even if this is happening during storms – utility poles falling over onto vehicles,” said a spokesperson for the Energy Education Council.

“I think as humans our first reaction is, ‘I got to get out, I got to get out,’” the spokesperson added, urging people to resist that first reaction.

Instead, wait until a utility company professional tells you to exit your vehicle. The only exception to this would be if your vehicle is on fire.

In that case, you should exit on whichever side of the vehicle is farthest from downed wires and get out without touching anything. Keep your feet together and hop out of the vehicle.

If you or a family member has been injured in a crash caused by another driver’s negligence, contact an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.