Largest group of drivers joins UPS Circle of Honor

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UPS announced the induction of 928 drivers into its elite “Circle of Honor,” raising to 4,793 the number of active drivers who have steered clear of accidents for 25 years or more. The number of new inductees is the largest for any single year in the Atlanta-based company’s history.

Collectively, the 4,793 drivers have logged more than 5 billion miles and more than 136,091 years of safe driving through their careers. That’s enough miles to circle the Earth 212,000 times. Of the Circle of Honor members, 231 have been accident-free for 35 or more years, with 17 of those having driven more than 40 years without an accident.

UPS’s top safe driver in 2009 is Kentucky District tractor-trailer driver Ron “Big Dog” Sowder, who has achieved 48 years and 4 million miles of driving without an accident. “It’s an honor to lead this remarkable group of seasoned safe drivers,” says Sowder. ”I’m not ready to stop just yet – 50 years without an accident has a nice ring to it.”

UPS’s 102,000 drivers worldwide are among the safest on the roads, logging more than 3.3 billion miles per year with less than one accident per million miles driven. This year, 11 female drivers have joined the ranks of those with more than 30 years of safe driving. This group is led by Orlando, Fla.-based tractor-trailer driver Ginny Odom, who is credited with 35 years and more than 3 million miles without an accident.

“Safe driving is not an afterthought – it’s at the very heart of our culture,” says Debbie Gehricke, UPS corporate health and safety manager. “Our drivers make a choice to be the best. The Circle of Honor is a testament to the daily dedication that our drivers display in keeping the roads a safe place for everyone.”

All UPS drivers are taught safe driving methods beginning on the first day of classroom training, including the company’s comprehensive safety course, “Space and Visibility.” The training continues throughout their careers. For a video b-roll and a complete list by state of new Circle of Honor inductees, go to