Danger Seen In Power Poles Close To Road

A few weeks ago we raised concerns about the positioning of power poles after 3 people were killed in Christchurch when their car hit a power pole whilst travelling at low speed along an urban street. Just hours after the incident a young man was killed when his car hit a pole in South Elgin.

Now the Otago Land Transport Committee is questioning the positioning of power poles on rural roads as part of a fresh look at road safety. This is from a report of a meeting they held to discuss and was published in the ODT by Mark Price:

“At its meeting in Dunedin last week, the committee also called for a lower legal alcohol level, an increase in the driving age, to 16, and changes to the give way laws.

But it was a series of photographs presented by Southern district road policing manager Inspector Andrew Burns which sparked comment on the dangers presented by the position of power poles.

The photographs were of a corner in Southland where two 18-year-old men died in December 2007, when their vehicle failed to take a bend and hit a power pole on the edge of the road.

Insp Burns said the driver had not been drinking and had done “nothing wrong”, apart from losing control as the corner “tightened up on him”.

A crash analyst could not work out why he crashed, and could only think that a lack of signs at the approach to the corner was the problem.

Insp Burns said if the pole had not been there, the car would have simply ended up in the flax bushes.

The two who died were Michael Joseph Blackburn, of Otatara, and Raymond Douglas McKee, of Winton.

Insp Burns said signs had still not been put at the bend, almost two years after the crash.

Waitaki member of the committee Alistair Mavor said local authorities and lines companies should consider more carefully where they placed poles.

“They’ve got this aerial trespass rule.

“They don’t like to trespass over the property boundary away from the road reserve, so they put power poles, in some cases, close to the road….

Committee member and Queenstown mayor Clive Geddes said use of road reserves by infrastructure companies was increasing, and there was a need for a national policy.

Dunedin City Council transportation planning manager Don Hill said in countries like Sweden, the approach was to reduce the speed limit where there were such hazards along road sides.

He said it would take a “quantum shift in mindset” for that approach to be introduced in New Zealand.”

Other hazards which drivers were unaware of that could adversely influence the outcome of an ‘accident’ are ditches and fences.

The time is long overdue for a ‘quantum shift in mindset’ and this new initiative could be the first step in the right direction, more transport committees should follow suit and pressure must be brought for a national policy to be agreed on and introduced. The impetus must be maintained.

New Zealand has the the third highest number of motor vehicle deaths, twice that of countries such as Great Britain and almost three times that of Sweden.

Last year 36 people died when their vehicles hit power poles or posts, 173 received serious injuries and 745 had minor injuries.

37 people were killed in September, up from 24 in the same month last year and 409 have died in the last 12 months.

One thought on “Danger Seen In Power Poles Close To Road

  1. I mentioned in another post the narrowness of roads, no shoulders, crumbly road beds, daring passes, steep hillsides, crazy drivers and shifting weather.

    Add power poles close to road and ageing electrical cables and poles as number 11.

    I have seen power poles “down” in bad weather across the road, rain pelting down, blue electric arcs coming out of them, cars lined up behind it on either side of the road anxious to get on to wherever, clueless unskilled road workers thinking they should call someone out who knows about electric…

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