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BC Hydro data shows increase in motor vehicle accidents involving electrical equipment

VANCOUVER: BC Hydro released new data today that shows the number of motor vehicle accidents involving its equipment is on the rise, leading to more outages for customers and more trouble calls for crews.

Last year, BC Hydro responded to over 2,100 motor vehicle accidents involving its equipment – 13 per cent higher than the five-year average. The region with the largest increase was the Lower Mainland, with a 16 per cent increase. All other regions also saw an increase, with the exception of the Central Interior that saw a two per cent decrease, these include:

  • Vancouver Island: 14 per cent increase
  • North: 10 per cent increase
  • Southern Interior: 8 per cent increase

These types of incidents made up around four per cent of BC Hydro’s total trouble calls during the year, and led to over 970 power outages for customers in the province.

With the arrival of storm season, road conditions will be more hazardous, which increases the potential for motor vehicle accidents. Occupants of a vehicle that comes into contact with electrical equipment are at risk for serious injury or death.

In the event of this type of accident, if it is determined safe to do so, drivers should drive out from under the power line and away from the source of electricity. Drivers should travel at least 10 meters – the length of a bus – before stopping. If it is unsafe to drive away due to injury, the vehicle being inoperable or objects in the way, remain in the vehicle, call 9-1-1 and wait until a BC Hydro crew arrives to make the area safe.

If staying in the car is not an option due to a fire or other emergency, vehicle occupants should follow these steps to avoid electrical contact:

  • remove loose-fitting clothing like jackets or scarves;
  • open the vehicle door and stand at the opening of the door; 
  • jump out and away from the vehicle making sure not to touch any part of the vehicle and the ground at the same time;
  • land with feet together and shuffle heel to toe away from the vehicle to a distance of 10 metres and call 9-1-1.

A recent survey commissioned by BC Hydro found over one-third of British Columbians have driven around emergency crews or safety cones that were set up to protect the public from a downed line and 15 per cent have driven close to, or over a downed line following a windstorm. BC Hydro reminds the public to always assume a downed power line is live and dangerous and to report it to 9-1-1.

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