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Wisconsin Electric Cooperatives and Safe Electricity are launching an educational campaign aimed at making sure drivers know what to do if they are in a crash that involves power lines or other electrical equipment. “License to Live” includes an educational video and other instructional materials and was funded by the Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange.  


The idea was sparked by Carol Blaken, member relations manager at Jackson Electric Cooperative, after she witnessed a crash in which a young teen driver had a very close call after hitting a utility pole.  


“The car was flipped on its hood. My husband went to assess the accident while I called 911. The driver of the car was out of the vehicle, hands on his knees, and my husband said if the driver would have reached up with his arms, he would have touched the sagging power lines,” Blaken recalls. She also stopped the teen from returning to the car to get his cell phone. 


Realizing how many drivers of all ages are unaware of the clear and present danger of downed lines, Blaken approached Benjamin Bella, safety & compliance coordinator for a group of four western Wisconsin electric cooperatives, who organized a group of representatives from Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative, Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, Jackson Electric Cooperative, Oakdale Electric Cooperative, and Riverland Energy Cooperative, and the “License to Live” campaign was born. 


“Our goal throughout this entire project has been simple.  Education and Awareness.  If we can put together a quality product illustrating what to do during a car vs pole emergency; it WILL save lives,” Bella said. 


“At Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, we too often hear of and respond to automobile accidents that involve a utility pole or transformer box,” said Monica Obrycki, Chief Administrative Officer at Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, “Ideally, these incidents would not happen at all, but the reality is that they do. This video will help educate young drivers on what to do if this happens to them.” 


The “License to Live” campaign is aimed at making sure people know exactly what to do if their car comes into contact with a utility pole or wire, including: 

  • STAY IN YOUR vehicle and call 911 
  • ONLY get out of the vehicle if it is on fire 
  • IF you must get out, jump from the vehicle with both feet together, and shuffle your feet on the ground as you move away from the scene 
  • ALWAYS assume all wires and equipment are electrified 


The planning committee is also working to get the information incorporated into driver’s education curriculum and are distributing the “License to Live” video and educational materials through Wisconsin electric cooperatives, including Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services. 


To learn more about License to Live and view the video, go to: