Con-way Freight’s professional drivers are in Minnesota to compete in the 2007 National Truck Driving Championships today-Friday, Aug. 21-25. More than 50 Con-way drivers participating in eight individual skills classes must demonstrate a mastery of the critical safety skills that have allowed this group to drive more than 80 million accident-free miles.
Con-way’s team, representing 33 states, comprises 27 veteran competitors and 25 newcomers to the National Championship. Dale Duncan, a 24-year driving veteran, is going for his second Grand Champion title, competing in the Tanker class. Previously, Duncan has taken two individual event National Champion titles.
To compete in the national event, drivers must win state championships in their respective equipment classes. When a state champion is unable to attend, the next top finisher is tapped to be the state’s representative at Nationals.
“The physical and mental demands placed on these front-line professionals are tremendous,” says John G. Labrie, president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Con-way Freight. “The best in the business have stamina, patience, foresight, good organizational skills and the ability to quickly analyze and respond safely to the constantly changing conditions of their workplace — our nation’s roads and highways. Our national competitors have risen to the top of their profession due to unwavering dedication to their craft and being the best at what they do.”
Con-way competitors and their guests traveled to Minneapolis at the company’s expense to participate in the competition. Since 1999, whenever a Con-way driver sales representative wins an equipment class National Champion title, the company gives the driver a new Ford F150 4×4 Stretch Cab pickup truck. The company further commemorates the employee’s achievement with a customized commercial tractor that displays the driver’s name and championship title, which then is provided to the driver as his work vehicle. In addition, Con-way employees competing in the event are eligible for a $7,500 award by the company for winning the Grand Champion title.
The National Champion of each class also receives a check for $1,000, a plaque and a gold belt buckle from the American Trucking Associations. Additionally, the organization awards the Grand Champion a commemorative diamond ring and plaque, as well as industry-wide recognition as “The Best Truck Driver in America.”
Each Con-way driver qualified to compete at the state competition by maintaining an accident-free safety record for the previous year. At the national competition, each driver faces testing in four areas: a personal interview, a timed written exam, a pre-trip inspection test and a driving skills test. Including Duncan’s 2006 Grand Champion win, nine Con-way drivers have won National Champion honors and received new pickup trucks from the company over the past eight years.