City of Hastings Emphasizing Importance Of Attentive Driving

The City of Hastings encourages motorists to remain attentive while driving. Hastings has had 24 poles and two electrical boxes struck by cars through September. Eleven of the poles had to be replaced and the others required some repairs to wires and equipment.

Those numbers are consistent with past years. Some poles can be replaced in four hours or less, such as street light poles. Others may take several days if they have multiple electric circuits on them plus communication wires.

Utility poles have been getting hit by cars for a long time, sometimes it is weather related, others are caused by impaired drivers. Since the advent of cell phone use the numbers have increased drastically.

When poles are struck, the pole and the equipment on them can fall on cars and pedestrians. The high voltage line can be knocked down and cause an electrocution hazard. The cost to replace a pole can range from $2,000 to $6,000 dollars and is billed to the party
responsible for the damage. Replacing damaged poles takes crews away from their normal, scheduled work.

The initial response to a broken pole is usually led by police and fire department personnel. Utility crews are then dispatched to make the scene safe and restore any power outages that have been caused by the incident. If any digging is required to repair or replace the pole, diggers hotline is called to locate any
underground utilities.

Locating personnel are dispatched to locate gas, water, sewer, electric and communications. Capt. Jason Haase with the Hastings Police Department said distracted drivers are one of the biggest threats on the road.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Association defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system

— anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
“While a cellphone gets the most attention for distracting drivers, there are many more culprits that take the attention of a driver,” he said. “Some of the most common distractions include eating and drinking, fiddling with the dashboard, picking up dropped items, and engaging in conversation with passengers or on the cellphone.”

Every driver is guilty of being distracted behind the wheel. Multitasking requires the brain to focus on one thing, switching between tasks quickly. The more things a driver does while driving, reduces his or her focus on the road. Haase said a vehicle traveling 30 miles per hour goes approximately 44 feet per second. A driver taking eyes off the road for even 3 seconds means the vehicle goes 132 feet without someone actively controlling it.

“There are countless problems that can happen during this time like a car braking up ahead, another driver pulling into traffic ahead of you, a changing light or missed stop sign, or even a child running into the road and all of this is under ideal weather conditions,” he said. “When you and in rain, fog, snow, etcetera, your brain has to work even harder to account for the weather and all of the other tasks you are trying to accomplish.”