Utility Pole Safety: A Project for the Alabama Department of Transportation
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Utility Pole Safety: A Project for the Alabama Department of Transportation

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  • English

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      Final Report: February 1, 2001 - March 15, 2002
    • Abstract:
      Federal regulations indicate that highway agencies should work with utility companies to treat utility facilities that are found likely to cause injury to motorists. Between 1994 and 1998, Alabama ranked 14th among the 50 states in total utility pole fatalities and 13th in utility pole fatalities per 100 billion vehicle miles traveled. This research project studied the contribution that a reduction in utility pole crashes could make to the overall transportation safety effort in Alabama and examined methods for the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to accomplish such reductions. Utility pole crashes constituted only 1.0% of crashes on state-controlled roads, so a large reduction in pole crashes will play only a small role in meeting overall roadway safety goals. Fatal utility pole crashes in Alabama are relatively random events and do not occur in easily treated clusters, so there is no quick, inexpensive method of treating that problem. There is strong competition for safety funds in Alabama, with Hazard Elimination Safety (HES) funds used as the principle source. The research showed that most utility pole crash sites in Alabama could not compete effectively for HES funds. A review of nearby states with utility pole safety programs showed that they addressed utility pole safety principally during state highway agency construction projects. Considering the low impact an independent utility pole safety program would have on overall roadway safety and the strong competition for safety funds, the researchers endorse achieving pole remediation through inclusion in active ALDOT construction projects or through sites that can be positively identified through the normal cost:benefit studies used for safety projects.
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