May 26, 2020
Central Hudson Cautions: Avoid Distractions When Behind the Wheel

Motor vehicle accidents involving utility poles have remained steady, despite the reduction in road traffic during the current pandemic. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. is reminding its customers to join the utility’s campaign in promoting safe, distraction-free driving to prevent auto accidents.

“Although roadway traffic has subsided since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, accidents involving utility facilities have not declined,” said Ryan Hawthorne, Assistance Vice President of Electric Engineering and Operations at Central Hudson. “These incidents may be due to stress and distractions residents may be experiencing during the pandemic.”

The National Safety Council (NSC) recently reported that nationally, motor vehicle accidents are 14% higher in March 2020 as compared to March 2019, and 17% higher in New York State. “Within the Mid-Hudson Valley region, auto accidents with utility poles continue to remain fairly steady, as do the number of outages caused by these accidents,” said Hawthorne. “More important are the injuries and property damage caused by auto accidents, and the danger distracted driving brings to other drivers, pedestrians and work crews. These are certainly unusual times, and many drivers may be preoccupied. We require our own employees, and kindly remind everyone, to remain focused when behind the wheel, and to follow all traffic laws and rules so that accidents can be avoided.”

The NSC recommends the following to maintain safety when driving, particularly during the pandemic:

  • Follow state and local requests, asking drivers to stay home except in emergency situations or for essential errands;
  • Obey speed limits, even if roads are clear and traffic is light;
  • Be aware of increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic as people turn to walking and biking to get out of the house safely during quarantine; conversely, pedestrians and bicyclists should remember that reduced traffic does not mean no traffic, and be careful when crossing or walking in streets;
  • Practice defensive driving: Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions;
  • Stay engaged with teen drivers’ habits and practice with them frequently – tips are available at org/DriveitHOME; and
  • Organizations and employers are encouraged to join the Road to Zero Coalition, a 1,500-member group committed to eliminating roadway deaths by 2050.
  • For more, visit

“Many Central Hudson employees routinely work alongside roadways when repairing electric and natural gas facilities, reading meters and completing many other tasks,” said Hawthorne. “These workers and others, including highway crews, law enforcement and first responders, are placed at higher risk when drivers are distracted. The ability to see, react or recognize changes on the road ahead is seriously compromised when preoccupied with other, non-driving thoughts and tasks. For your own safety and the safety of those around you, please remain focused when behind the wheel, put away any distractions such as cell phones, and follow the rules of the road.”

For more information on distracted driving, visit

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