Drivers who hit utility poles pay for damage, possible replacement

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Drivers who damage or destroy utility poles in car crashes may have to front a hefty bill to replace the poles.

According to the Wilmington Police Department, a driver was speeding down Carolina Beach Road Tuesday morning when they lost control and hit a telephone pole. The pole snapped in two on impact. The driver was uninjured.

A spokesperson for Duke Energy said any at-fault driver has to pay for the repairs, manpower, and replacement needed to fix the poles. The spokesperson estimates the average cost is several thousand dollars.

"That driver at fault will pay that too, much like if they ran off the road and ran into some business' sign," Randy Wheeless, spokesperson for Duke Energy, said. "Whoever is at fault, usually their insurer will pay."

Insurance companies are responsible for determining fault in crashes. The minimum policy required in North Carolina covers $25,000 of property damage. While the insurance company will take care of the bill in the short term, one insurance agent estimates the rate increase starts at an extra $150 every six months for three years and only gets pricier depending on the severity of the crash.

According to Esurance, the police report plays a key role in helping insurance companies determine fault.

Crews replaced the telephone pole and cleaned up what was left of the shattered one later in the day Tuesday.

"It's not a part of the business we love," Wheeless said. "We'd rather be doing something more productive than replacing poles that were already there and working correctly, but it's what happens when you have so many cars on the road."

If the crash involves multiple cars, and you are not the driver at fault, take pictures or videos of the scene and explain your side of the story to police in case the other driver tries to pin the damage on you.

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