By: Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News 6.17.22
Residents pull up alongside City of Las Cruces (City) vehicles every day. From work trucks heading out to connect new accounts or check up on a reported leak, to the large trash trucks that make their way through neighborhoods and pick up in commercial areas. A revised vehicle standard operating procedure allows for streamlined training and accountability for all Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) drivers in the system, including the various vehicles that are used to serve the public.
“It’s a benefit to not only employees but residents that all the vehicle usage information is now in one standardized document,” LCU Safety Office Case Van Dyke. “It provides guidance to line of business supervisors, displaying examples of traffic-related infractions that can be used as a teaching tool for new employees.”
Van Dyke explained that many, if not most, accidents are preventable, especially if drivers are proactive in observing their environment and driving defensively.
“The rule of thumb is to check if the driver did everything reasonably possible to prevent or avoid the accident,” he said. “No task is more important than the safe operation of LCU-owned vehicles. Vehicle accidents will be reviewed for root causes and preventability determination.”
“This program aims to decrease injuries, minimize costs and liabilities, increase productivity and efficiency, and save lives,” said LCU Director Delilah Walsh. “Sometimes accidents happen, but with some of our employees being on the road as the main component of their daily duties, we want them to have the regular training that reminds them of common scenarios they can avoid. We tailor it to their duties because the vehicles have unique risks that we negotiate in real-world scenarios.”
Van Dyke explained that complacency could happen when drivers use the same vehicle routinely, but, different environments (including weather) can change how a driver handles the vehicle, which is what the training can reinforce.
“These trainings apply not only to vehicles on public roads but also vehicles you might see us working on in the street, like forklifts, backhoes, or front loaders,” Van Dyke said. “We want to keep our employees and the public safe.”
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Natural and Energy Gas Inspectors Juan Molina is one of the LCU employees you might encounter on the road. Molina and his coworkers take their vehicle safety training seriously to keep residents, themselves, and infrastructure safe.