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Volume 08: A Guide for Reducing Collisions Involving Utility Poles

utility pole

More than 1,000 Die Annually In Crashes Involving Utility Poles


Each year more than 1,000 fatal crashes are associated with utility poles, a figure based on collision with a utility pole being the “most harmful event” in a fatal crash. Many more crashes in which one or more vehicles strike a utility pole are not classified as run-off-the-road or fixed-object crashes.


Nearly 40 percent of utility pole crashes involve some type of non-fatal injury. About 25 percent of pole crashes occur in adverse weather conditions, while another 25 percent occur under lighted conditions at night. Half occur in full daylight. Because of the structural strength and small impact area of utility poles, these crashes tend to be severe. The only object type more frequently struck in fatal fixed-object crashes is trees.




  • Treat specific utility poles in high-crash and high-risk spot locations.
  • Prevent placing utility poles in high-risk locations.
  • Treat several utility poles along a corridor to minimize the likelihood of crashing into a utility pole if a vehicle runs off the road.

Download this guide: http://gulliver.trb.org/publications/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_500v8.pdf

NCHRP 500-8

Utility Poles

Organized and targeted strategies to treat roadsides over time can significantly reduce the likelihood of a vehicle striking a utility pole or of that event causing injuries. This guide focuses on lower-cost strategies that can be implemented quickly – strategies that are focused on poles and guy wires or short sections of the roadway and aimed at reducing the harm in utility pole crashes after encroachment on the roadside has occurred.

Download the guide in PDF

View the Guide and Appendices in HTML

Order a printed copy

Related publications

Utility Poles One Pager

Self Assessment Tool

Integrated Safety Management Process