Duke Energy is asking drivers to remain cautious as the number of vehicles hitting power poles increases in the Triad.
According to a company spokesperson, so far in 2021, there have been 200 outages caused by public accidents, affecting around 42,000 customers.
“Even in just the last month, we’ve seen multiple ones in the same week. We had an instance of a vehicle taking down 12 utility poles. We had multiple vehicles hitting poles, so it is a very real problem,” said Duke Energy Spokesperson Jeff Brooks.
In 2020, there were about 600, which is a 42% increase from 2018.
“We saw an increase fairly sharply in 2020, and that was the year that many of us were working at home…so even during the pandemic, there were increases, and this tells us this is a challenge, and it’s a challenge that’s difficult to predict,” Brooks said.
Brooks explained the utility company is working to strengthen poles and expand self-healing technology, which automatically detects outages and reroutes power to other power lines.
“The question that often comes up is ‘why don’t you put the lines underground?’ Because we have so many overhead lines and because some of those lines would be very difficult to disrupt and costly to place underground. It’s really not the best solution. In fact, it takes longer to restore the outage,” he said.
To avoid 5-6 hour outages and the cost of replacing the pole, he says drivers need to focus on the road and keep themselves safe.
“It’s a reminder that not only is it a safety matter for you, stay alert and make sure you’re being safe on the road, but your actions have a direct impact on thousands of other people,” Brooks said.