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April 3, 2017
For Release: Immediately
Central Hudson Brings Awareness to Distracted Driving

April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council, and officials with Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. are reminding local residents of the importance of paying full attention at all times while operating a motor vehicle.

“Each year, thousands of accidents are attributed to driver distractions, often by the use of cell phones and other technologies that draw our attention away from the road. About a quarter of all such accidents are now attributable to cell phone use – that should alarm every driver,” said Denise D. VanBuren, Vice President of Public Relations for Central Hudson. “These accidents can have deadly consequences. It’s a situation that is entirely preventable if we pay attention.”

According to the National Safety Council, automobile accidents were 6 percent higher in 2016 than in 2015, and 14 percent higher than in 2014, the highest two-year increase in 53 years. A recent survey released by the agency also shows that while drivers recognize the importance of safety, 47 percent indicate they are comfortable texting while driving. They estimate that 26 percent of all automobile accidents involve the use of cell phones, including the use of hands-free features, and drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in an accident. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that driver distraction contributes to 16 percent of all fatal accidents.

“We’re working to reverse this trend by launching our campaign, ‘Thanks for putting down the phone. Stay in the Safety Zone: It’s the bright thing to do,’ to help make our roads safer for everyone,” said VanBuren. “In the weeks ahead, our safety messages will be seen on television, radio, newspapers, highway billboards and social media.

“We’re also asking our customers to speak to their children, families and friends about the dangers of distracted driving, so that together we can improve safety on the road,” she added.

VanBuren explained that distracted driving also contributes to electric service interruptions and endangers utility employees working alongside roadways. The number of power outages in Central Hudson’s service territory caused by motor vehicle accidents rose by nearly 15 percent between 2012 and 2015, and by 2016, the number of customers impacted by vehicle-related outages grew by 75 percent. “Not only is the number of accidents increasing, but those incidents also often involve electric facilities that are located on busy roadways that serve many customers and therefore create larger outages,” she said.  “Furthermore, utility work zones have become increasingly vulnerable to distracted drivers who endanger the safety of our workers while they are reading meters, maintaining electric and natural gas facilities and completing other activities.

“Let’s put the brakes on distracted driving,” said VanBuren. “Join us in this effort to keep our families and Hudson Valley neighbors safe by putting down the phone and staying in the safety zone. It’s the bright thing to do!”

For more information on distracted driving awareness, including a link to download a Family Safe Driving Agreement, visit www.CentralHudson.com/DistractedDriving; or visit the National Safety Council website at www.NSC.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving-awareness-month.aspx.

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Central Hudson is launching a distracted driving awareness campaign to inform residents of the dangers of distracted driving. Safety messages will be seen on television, radio, newspapers, highway billboards and social media, and the energy company is encouraging residents to speak to their children, families and friends about the dangers of distracted driving.

 

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation is a regulated transmission and distribution utility serving approximately 380,000 customers in portions of eight counties of New York State's Mid-Hudson River Valley; it delivers natural gas and electricity in a 2,600-square-mile service territory that extends from the suburbs of metropolitan New York City north to the Capital District at Albany. Its mission is to deliver electricity and natural gas to an expanding customer base in a safe, reliable, courteous and affordable manner; to produce growing financial returns for its owner; to foster a culture that encourages employees to reach their full potential; and to be a good corporate citizen. Visit www.CentralHudson.com for more information.

 

Central Hudson became the first American utility subsidiary of Canadian holding company Fortis Inc. in June 2013.   Fortis is a leader in the North American utility industry with assets of approximately $48 billion and 2016 revenue of $6.8 billion. Its regulated utility companies serve more than three million customers across Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. Visit www.Fortisinc.com for additional information.