Safe Driving Q&A with Ryder’s 2013 Driver of the Year David Hopper

Updated Apr 25, 2014

David Hopper RYDL9260 edited[1]Memorial Day — which marks the unofficial start of the Summer Driving Season — is a little over a month away. To help professional drivers deal with this annual influx of motorists, Ryder System decided to interview its 2013 Driver of the Year David Hopper to find out what driving safety tips he could offer to those who will be on the roadways during the holiday weekend.

Ryder (R): What vehicle inspection tips would you recommend prior to embarking on a long road trip (which many will be doing this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend)?

David (D): Make sure you keep the air pressure in your tires up to standard for safety and fuel efficiency purposes, and purchase new wiper blades.

(R): What are some safety precaution tips you can provide to those who find themselves stuck in traffic over the long weekend?

(D): Keep calm. There’s no sense in getting agitated, especially since there’s nothing you can do about it. And turn the radio ON!

(R): What are some of the things you find drivers neglect to do most while driving?

(D): I see a lot of improper lane changes and people failing to put their turn signals on. I also notice drivers who hit the brakes at the last minute when they’re merging off of a ramp…it’s so important that you stay up to road speed when you’re doing that.

(R): What is the best way to handle distracted drivers around you?

(D): The best thing you can do when you spot a distracted driver (i.e. a texter) is to move away from them as soon as you can, and remain a safe distance away.

(R): What have you found is the best way to remain distraction-free while driving?

(D): Remain concentrated on the task at hand, which is driving. It’s important to see the “big picture,” which means being vigilant of what’s going on in front of you, behind you, and even above you.

(R): How can you prevent an accident?

(D): Stay alert at all times. If you’re alert, most, if not all, of accidents can be avoided.

(R): If you find yourself not as alert at the wheel as you should be, what do you do that you’ve found works best?

(D): Pull over and take a break. Sometimes your eyes just need to rest. Other times, you might find yourself needing to refocus your mindset or train of thought.

(R): If hauling a heavy load, how might someone want to alter their driving habits?

(D): The same rule that pretty much applies across the board when you’re hauling a heavy load of any kind is to brake sooner than you normally would. Doing so prevents whatever you’re hauling from spilling or breaking.

(R): What would you say is the single most important piece of advice you could give to those on the roadways (or list a top 3 if has multiple)?

(D): Be on the lookout for:

  • Campers. Families are itching to get out of the house after this long, cold winter, so there’s bound to be plenty of campers on the road this holiday weekend.
  • Motorcyclists. While many follow the rules, there are also many others who do just the opposite and cut in between lanes. It’s important to be cognizant of those.
  • Broken down vehicles on the shoulder. Make sure you give them enough room when passing.

David Hopper David Hopper is the 2013 “Driver of the Year” (DOY) winner for Ryder’s Supply Chain Solutions business.  DOY honors drivers who have demonstrated exemplary safety performance, customer service, and citizenship throughout their careers. Mr. Hopper drives for Ryder’s Xerox account based in Monroe, Ohio.  He has driven more than 1.3 million preventable, collision-free miles during his 10 with Ryder and more than 2.5 million preventable collision-free miles over the course of his impressive 20-year professional driving career.  When asked what he finds most enjoyable about being a truck driver, he said, “All the sites you get to see along the way. I saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time in my life at the age of 50. It was a great feeling.”