Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 50-04. Utility Pole Safety and Hazard Evaluation Approaches

Among other fixed objects on the roadside, utility poles in the clear zone adjacent to roadways represent a significant hazard to the traveling public. Utility pole collisions account for nearly 1,000 fatalities per year. The 2004 TRB State of the Art Report 9 Utilities and Roadside Safety presented several approaches and devices for improving roadside safety related to utility poles. A follow-up paper by the same authors in 2015 reported that in the 10 years following the initial report, roadside fatalities with fixed objects decreased by 39% while those involving utility poles were only reduced by 8%. This represents a clear need for understanding the approaches and devices state transportation agencies (STAs) and utility companies are adopting to address these safety concerns. Technology and material advances offer several opportunities to limit if not eliminate utility poles as roadside hazards. Advances in horizontal directional drilling among other approaches to locating utilities underground is one approach to eliminating utility pole hazards but relocation of utility pole hazards to the edge or right-of-way can in some circumstances limit the hazard posed by the utility pole. Additionally, material advances offer opportunities to limit utility pole hazards by improving their crashworthy or breakaway properties. In many cases, policies drive both the locations and materials of devices used. The objective of this synthesis is to identify STA policies related to roadside utility pole hazards and highlight effective practices.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 50-04

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Zwahlen, Tanya

  • Start Date: 20180828
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01668997
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 50-04
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 14 2018 3:03PM