What Happens When a Car Hits a Pole?

By Scott Dreger

You’ve probably seen Transmission & Distribution crews working to repair or replace power poles hit by a car. What you don’t see is what happens after the repairs. Southern California Edison’s Claims Department takes over. Vehicles hit poles approximately 2,500 times per year, and the cost of replacement ranges from $7,500 for a street light to $100,000 for a transmission pole.

In some cases, the accident can also cause a power surge — a sudden increase in voltage that can damage equipment and appliances in businesses and homes connected to the circuit.

To avoid having customers foot the bill, SCE works to recover these costs — amounting to millions of dollars per year. After a police report determines who is at fault, the Claims Department contacts the driver’s insurance company to collect the funds. They also refer any customer claims for power surge damages to the driver and their insurance company.