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January 17, 2017
For Release: Immediately
It's the Bright Thing to Do
Central Hudson Launches Anti-Distracted Driving Campaign

Distracted driving can have deadly consequences. Concerned about the safety of its customers and its employees, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of inattentiveness behind the wheel: “Thanks for putting down the phone. Stay in the Safety Zone: It’s the bright thing to do.”

Between 2012 and 2015, the number of power outages in Central Hudson’s service territory that were caused by motor vehicle accidents was up nearly 15 percent. By 2016, the number of customers impacted by vehicle-related outages was up 75 percent, as 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.

In addition, utility work zones have become increasingly subject to distracted drivers who endanger the safety of workers.

“Driving requires our full attention. Tempting distractions often take our focus away from the road, many times with catastrophic results,” said Denise D. VanBuren, Vice President of Public Relations for Central Hudson. “In addition to the terrible toll that such accidents take on lives, they are a serious threat to our workers and our facilities.”

She explained that many Central Hudson employees routinely work alongside roadways when repairing electric and natural gas facilities, reading meters and completing many other tasks, noting that those workers are placed at higher risk when drivers become distracted.

“Many drivers attempt to multitask, placing themselves, passengers, other drivers and pedestrians at great risk,” said VanBuren. “Our ability to see, react or recognize changes on the road ahead is seriously compromised when preoccupied with other, non-driving tasks. We’re asking everyone behind the wheel to put away their cell phones, pay attention and make safe driving their priority.”

According to the National Safety Council, 26 percent of all automobile accidents now involve the use of cell phones, including the use of hands-free options, and that drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in an auto accident. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that distraction now contributes to 16 percent of all fatal accidents.

To launch its distracted driving awareness campaign, Central Hudson worked with Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie to hold a presentation to their students by nationally recognized speaker Joel Feldman on Tues., Jan. 17. Feldman founded End Distracted Driving (www.EndDD.org), one of the leading organizations in the country educating drivers and passengers about the dangers of distracted driving, and has presented on this important topic to more 500 audiences throughout North America, reaching more than 100,000 students and adults.

“Central Hudson has a strong culture of safety and strict policies regarding our employees’ use of cell phones,” said VanBuren. “Distracted driving can devastate lives in an instant, and we owe it to ourselves, our families and those with whom we share the road to give driving our full attention,” she said. “It IS the bright thing to do.” For more information on distracted driving prevention, visit www.CentralHudson.com/DistractedDriving.

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Central Hudson has launched an anti-distracted driving awareness program, encouraging all drivers to keep their focus on the road to avoid needless accidents.

For more information on distracted driving prevention, visit www.CentralHudson.com/DistractedDriving, or see the resources provided by End Distracted Driving at http://www.enddd.org/, the National Safety Foundation at http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving.aspx or AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety at www.aaafoundation.org/distracted-driving.

Central Hudson launched a distracted driving awareness campaign by sponsoring nationally recognized speaker on distracted driving, Joel Feldman, for a presentation at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie. Students were provided with a Family Safe Driving Agreement, wrist bands, and participated in the presentation.