SAN ANGELO, Texas - Driving an ambulance for seven years taught Verizon customer zone technician Corey Womack about the consequences of unsafe driving. The former paramedic, who dealt with numerous life and death situations, draws frequently upon his past career as he drives his 21-foot Verizon bucket truck to and from customer premises visits to install and repair telephone service along the bustling roadways of Dallas' northern suburbs.
"Living and working in the Metroplex, you have to be a defensive driver and always pay attention to what others are doing," says Womack, who sports a five-year perfect driving record at Verizon. "I've seen people drive while steering with their knees so they could put on makeup or search for items in their car. I always look for an escape route just in case another vehicle is about to hit me due to the driver not paying attention."
Womack, and five other Verizon technicians and cable splicers who won regional driving contests earlier this year, will get their chance to showcase their safe driving skills during the company's second annual statewide safety rodeo tomorrow at Verizon's fleet maintenance center here, 20202 Loop 306. The winner will be crowned the company's safest driver in Texas.
The safety rodeo -- featuring six driving, maneuverability and parking events -- will require the finalists to drive Verizon trucks through a serpentine course lined with traffic cones and cement bumpers and to demonstrate their dexterity at backing up and stopping just millimeters away from a loading dock.
All the events will take place on a track the size of a football field and be judged by safety officials from the Texas Department of Highways, Texas Department of Public Safety, the San Angelo Police Department and Verizon's Regional Safety Council.
Each year in Texas, Verizon technicians and supervisors rack up 26.5 million miles -- the equivalent of driving 95,501 trips between Dallas and San Antonio in a year -- in the company's 2,081 bucket trucks, vans, pickups and sedans in the Lone Star State. With the long stretches of roads that seem to go on forever in parts of rural Texas, the state possesses the company's highest annual average miles driven per Verizon vehicle at 12,712 miles. Nationwide, Verizon's fleet of 58,222 vehicles log enough miles -- 517 million to be exact -- to represent 183,263 coast-to-coast trips between New York and Los Angeles.
Verizon Texas Region Operations President Mary Jane Johnston credits the company's and the Communication Workers of America's focus on safe driving for the region's strong driving record in the past few years.
"By emphasizing safe driving, Verizon and the CWA help make Texas roads safer by reducing the number of vehicular accidents," said Johnston. "The regional events leading up to our safety rodeo final produced spirited competition and an increased awareness of how important it is to drive to and from work assignments safely."
The six safety rodeo finalists -- narrowed down from an original field of 1,159 customer zone technicians, cable splicers and other outside plant employees -- include Womack from Lewisville; Jesse Garza from Brownwood; Rick Heitzman from Carrollton; Mark Orlando from League City; Bert Lopez from Robstown; and Ray Taylor from Irving.
A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 136.6 million access line equivalents and 33.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third-largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with 13.2 million long-distance lines, and the company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. With approximately $67 billion in annual revenues and 227,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.