Northland drivers are urged to drive with more caution following a spate of accidents involving vehicles hitting Top Energy and Northpower’s electricity assets.The Northland electricity lines companies have reported 51 incidents since December 2018 – 50 of them are where vehicles have hit power poles.
Only last week, a car took out a power pole on the Top Energy Network, causing a substantial scrub fire at Kerikeri Peninsula and cutting power to 1000 consumers.
Northland Road Safety’s Ian Crayton-Brown wants people to slow down, take more time to get to their destination and be more observant of potential roadside hazards.
“This time of year is particularly challenging and a higher risk time with more people on the roads travelling to holiday destinations. We don’t want to see fatal and serious injury crashes on Northlands roads,” says Mr. Brown.
“Getting to your destination safely or not can be greatly influenced by not being impaired, driving distracted or fatigued, wearing your seatbelt and your children all restrained correctly. Your speed, reaction time and condition of your tyres also have a huge influence on the stopping distance and crash outcome. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility,” he says.
Northpower and Top Energy are backing Northland Road Safety and together, the three entities want to see less people hurt on Northland roads.
“We ask people to reduce their speed and take extra caution this holiday season, so we all can get to our destinations safely and spend that quality time with friends and family,” says Northpower Network General Manager, Josie Boyd.
“If you are in a vehicle that takes down a power pole or powerlines and the lines end up on or around the vehicle, or if you can’t safely drive clear of the lines, phone 111 immediately and stay in the vehicle until you are told it is safe to get out.
“If you come across an accident scene involving downed powerlines - stay at least 10 metres clear and phone 111 immediately.”
Top Energy’s Network Operations Manager Tony Smallman says if people do have to exit a vehicle due to fire, they must not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time when jumping clear.
“Stand on the doorframe and cross your hands over your chest. Jump away from the car as far as you can with your feet together. As the ground may be energised, you need to shuffle with your feet together and touching – ensuring the heel of one foot is touching the toe of the other,” says Mr Smallman.
“Do not lift either foot off the ground and shuffle at least 10 metres away from the power line.
Mr Smallman is encouraging Northland families to familiarise themselves with Top Energy’s safety video which explains just what to do in an accident involving powerlines.
“When cars collide with power poles there’s the damage to the network, the vehicle, and the disruption of power supply to the community, but most importantly there’s the human cost of injury or fatality and the impact on families and friends.”
Top Energy has had 25 ‘vehicle verses electricity asset’ events since December 2018, and Northpower 26 – one on average a week in Northland. Not only are these often serious accidents, but they also result in extensive power outages to communities, with these 51 crashes resulting in over 270 hours of outages to electricity consumers and hundreds of thousands in repair costs.
In case of vehicle accidents involving electricity assets phone Top Energy Faults (Far North District) on 0800-867-363 or Northpower Faults (Kaipara and Whangarei Districts) on 0800-10-40-40.