BEST-IN-CLASS SAFETY practices are part of the standard operating procedures at Horry Electric. “This means, we often go above and beyond federal and state requirements for safety,” explains W.I.Jones, manager of operations for Horry Electric.Such is the case with the co-op’s position on distracted driving. “There has been a lot of talk in South Carolina about distracted driving, but legislation has not yet been passed to address the problem,” says Jones. “Regardless, we know it isn’t a good idea and we have had a policy in place that encouraged employees to keep safety in mind when using a mobile device.”
Jones asked his fellow Staff members at Horry Electric to take another look at the policy after getting a phone call from a member expressing concern about the issue. “He was passionate about it and I started thinking, ‘what if’, he says. “All five of us, plus the CEO discussed it and agreed we needed to take a more proactive stance against mobile phone use while driving.”
The updated policy prohibits employees from texting while operating any co-op vehicle or while operating personal vehicles during working time. “It also prohibits talking on a mobile phone while operating a co-op vehicle or while operating a personal vehicle during working time, unless the employee is using a hands free device in either situation,” says Abigail Lewis, human resources coördinator for Horry Electric. “Distracted driving is a prevalent issue on our roadways and, in recent years, the dangers of distracted driving due to mobile phone use and texting have increased dramatically.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes killed nearly 33,000 people in 2010. The National Safety Council estimates that 24% of all motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use.
“It’s just a risk we want to be aggressive about eliminating at Horry Electric,” says James P. “Pat” Howle, executive vice president and CEO of the Cooperative, adding that employees are equally engaged. “All of our employees have taken The Arrive Alive, Text Later (TXTL8R) Pledge promoted by Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC) and WFXB FOX TV.”
Howle and Jones and the rest of the crew at Horry Electric would like to see the members of the cooperative and their families join in the campaign, which was launched by HTC and WFXB in August of 2012.
“We are thrilled to connect with Horry Electric Cooperative on this public service campaign that focuses on reaching and encouraging local youth and adults to think twice before texting and driving. HTC is extremely pleased to be one of the first telecommunications companies nationally and the first in the area to launch a campaign of this kind and bring this positive life-saving message to our community. Nearly 5,000 local residents have taken the Text Later pledge and we’re honored that HEC is encouraging their entire work force to pledge along with them,” said Tom Vitt, director of marketing at HTC. For more information about the TXT L8R campaign, visit www.htcinc.net or www.wfxb.com/TXTL8R/ and take the pledge, or visit the nearest HTC office. HTC has nine convenient locations throughout Horry County: Coastal Grand Mall, two Conway locations (the main office on Highway 701 and the newest location on Highway 501 next to Hadwin-White), Loris, Little River, Murrells Inlet, Myrtle Beach, Socastee and Towne Centre.