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Pole-axed

PHOTOS/FILE

One power pole downed every three weeks

Power pole damage hits $165,000 in two years

CAL ROBERTS
[email protected]

Drivers are taking out one power pole every three weeks on average in Wairarapa.

In the past 24 months, 33 power poles were struck by vehicles, costing on average, $5000 a pop to replace.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling was surprised by the high number of incidents involving vehicles and power poles.

“It is surprising, and it is worrying.”

Pauling questioned the suitability of having poles near the road in high-speed areas but acknowledged the challenges.

“It is hard especially in a rural network to take away absolutely all roadside furniture.”

Powerco owns the power poles that carry network lines in Wairarapa.

Networks operations manager Phil Marsh said overhead power lines were often brought down when vehicles hit power poles, creating a hazard for occupants and the public.

He said network damage from vehicles often caused power cuts to surrounding properties.

Powerco’s website states if a vehicle hits its power lines or equipment, or if a high load on a truck takes down its lines across a road, the driver will be held responsible.

Marsh said it was important to think twice before getting involved with downed lines.

“Vehicle occupants should stay in their vehicles until the area has been made safe.

“Bystanders must keep well away from any downed lines.”

Senior Sergeant Mike Sutton also thought the statistic was high.

“It sounds like a bit when you break it down.”

Sutton believed the concrete poles were built to break at the base, depending on the impact.

He said factors contributing to a lack of concentration could be fatigue, alcohol or other impairment.

“Obviously, the speed they were traveling at the time also determines what happens at the point of impact.”

He said speed, impact, airbags and seatbelts all influenced what happened to people in a vehicle.

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