To the moon and back nearly 20 times: that’s about equal to how many miles – more than 11 million – TECO team members have driven without a preventable vehicle accident while serving the community.
As of June 2015, a total of seven Tampa Electric or Peoples Gas service areas throughout Florida have each driven more than 1 million miles safely. Two areas, South Hillsborough Operations with Tampa Electric and the Sarasota Division of Peoples Gas, have achieved more than 2 million miles each. While we strive day and night to provide customers with reliable electric and gas service, we have to ensure that we reach our destinations safely first.
There are lots of reasons for our safety success. Outfitting our trucks with new lighting features, reflective tape and other upgrades makes a difference. Important legislation like extending Florida’s “Move Over Act” to include utility crews, in addition to emergency crews, helps. But with major road construction projects happening across the state and more vehicles on the road, the biggest reason might be the focus that TECO team members bring to staying safe amid countless daily challenges at the wheel.
“Little orange cones save lives”
You may have noticed the miniature orange cones on TECO trucks and wondered what purpose they could possibly serve. The attention they attract is the point.
“Customers are always asking about the little orange cones – they love them,” said Irma Lawrence, manager of Tampa Electric’s South Hillsborough Operations Center, which leads the company in safe miles driven with 2,292,164 as of mid-June 2015. “Those cones remind each team member who gets back into his or her TECO truck to walk the “circle of safety” – a quick stroll around the vehicle to make sure there’s no danger of any accident that could happen, such as a child near the truck.”
She added, “Little orange cones save lives – it’s proven.”
The orange cones are just one part of an ever-growing approach to safety at TECO that includes training to reduce distractions on the job, a constant review of lessons learned and team member certification through the Smith System Driver Improvement Institute.
What you can do
Driving has challenges of all kinds, no matter who you are; surmounting them takes dedicated effort. Remember, text messaging is against the law if you’re driving. If you see TECO crews working, be sure to give them space to work – keep at least one lane of traffic open between your vehicle and the TECO truck. If this isn’t possible, reduce your speed to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit.
TECO trucks you see are on the road to help the community. By joining our efforts to stay as aware as possible at all times while driving, you can help keep yourself and our men and women safe. We’re part of the community just like you; we all want to make it home safely at the end of the day, just like you. With your focus and ours, we can hopefully make that happen – for the equivalent of the next 20 trips to the moon and beyond.