Trees are an important part of our lives; they add aesthetic value to the surrounding environment, improve air and water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide shade during the scorching summer months.
Likewise, power lines serve the machinery and equipment we interact with every day, adding luxury and efficacy to our lives.
While these two provide amazing benefits, when trees and power lines are in close proximity to roads, they become a potential hazard to motorists and can cause extreme vehicle damages and bodily injuries if they fall over or motorists accidentally run into them.
Read on to find out how to stay safe while driving on roads with trees and power lines.
Trees and motorists
Car accidents resulting from fallen trees or collision with trees that are too close to the roadside account for more than 5, 000 fatalities and 90, 000 injuries each year. And while the local tree expert may be the first person you think of when you see a downed tree, road and highway tree maintenance is the responsibility of the state or local municipality.
The state takes care of state roads, the county takes care of county roads, and towns take care of town roads. So, if a tree falls over or its branches dangle to an extent of endangering the road-users lives, whoever manages the road clears things up.
The situation is different, however, if the tree is touching a power line. In that case, the electric company has to step up. The company will work with the road maintenance crew to fix the problem.
First, they will de-energize the lines, then entangle and remove the wires from the tree. Once the tree is free of electricity wires, only then can the local municipality clear the tree or cut the hanging branches.
But downed trees or hanging limbs are not the only causes of motor vehicle accidents on roads; car collisions with trees also contribute to the statistics. The department of public works has plenty of options to minimize the potential of motor vehicles leaving the road including adding signage, improving pavement marking, and flattening curves.
Of course, speed plays a significant role when it comes to the severity of a tree crash. Trees on low-speed residential streets do not pose as much danger as those planted near high-speed highways and roads.
But irrespective of all the measures that the local government has put in place to prevent tree collisions, drivers must also do several things to stay safe when driving on roads with trees. For instance, they should observe road signs and drive at the appropriate speed.
Driver education could also play a huge part in ensuring overall road and highway safety. Inattention and distractions, attempts to overtake or avoid other vehicles, drowsiness, and harsh weather conditions are some of the many reasons why motorists leave the road, and being familiar with these will help them stay alert and prepared, which will go a long way in ensuring their safety.
Power lines and motorists
Each year, countless motorists crash into electricity poles, causing power lines to come down. This not only knocks out power to the nearby businesses, homes, and properties but also puts lives at risk.
Considering 90% of motor vehicle collisions are caused by driver mistakes, it is safe to say that most of these accidents, including those involving electricity lines, can completely be prevented.
Knowing what to do to avoid a car crash is important and so is knowing what steps to take or generally what to do if you see or are in an accident involving an electricity pole, a downed line, or a transformer.
If you are trapped in a car that is in contact with an electricity line:
1. Assume the electricity line and everything it is touching (including your vehicle) is energized and extremely dangerous even if the line is not buzzing, smoking, or sparking.
2. Stay calm and take a moment to assess the situation you are in. Unless there is an emergency like smoke or fire, it is safer remaining inside the car than jumping out and risking electrocution.
3. Call 911 and describe the accident. Wait inside your car until the emergency crew advises you it is safe to get out.
4. If bystanders approach your car to help you, tell them to stay away and above all not to touch the vehicle and anything the power line touches. This could save lives.
If there is an emergency and you need to get out of your car:
1. Open the door of your car wide, touching only the handle.
2. Jump out of the vehicle with your feet together; if you jump with your feet apart from each other, an electric current could travel through your body.
3. Shuffle your feet in short or slow slides until you are at least 30 feet away from the electric line.
If you witness a vehicle accident involving a power line:
1. Do not go near the vehicle; stay at least 30 feet away.
2. Tell anyone inside the vehicle to stay put and call 911 immediately for help.
3. If the car has caught fire, do not attempt to put the fire out with water or fire extinguisher, wait for the emergency crew to arrive.
Vehicle accidents involving trees and power lines can be deadly. The good news? They can be avoided if motorists take the necessary safety measures.
Follow the tips we have shared here and you will be able to keep yourself safe while driving on a road with trees and electricity lines.