DECATUR — If you're in an auto accident with downed power lines, here's what to remember: Stay in the car, call 911 and wait until a utility professional has deemed it safe to get out.
Ameren Illinois drove the lesson home earlier this week during a simulation of a van crashing into a power pole at its Decatur training facility, 271 S. 27th St. Attendees were invited to sit inside the vehicle and go through a step-by-step explanation of what to do in similar situations.
Brian Bretsch, a spokesman for Ameren, said the company asked the Illinois Department of Transportation to learn how many times drivers accidentally hit power poles within the state. IDOT said it happens more than 3,000 times a year, he said, and while that number did not surprise Bretsch, he said it demonstrated a need to raise awareness of the issue.
"(The simulation) was just another way to get out this important message and to keep our customers safe," Bretsch said.
In addition to the main safety message, Bretch said the event also explained that people should warn other "Good Samaritans" to stay away from the vehicle if a power line has been downed around it.
The only time anyone should attempt to get out of the vehicle is if it is on fire, Bretsch said. To do so, drivers should avoid touching the any portion of the vehicle, hop out with both feet and continue to "bunny hop" away from the scene.