Five drivers named finalists for ATA Driver of the Year award

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023:

Five drivers in contention for ATA National Driver of the Year

The American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council has announced the five professional truck driver finalists for the 2023 ATA National Driver of the Year award.

The ATA National Driver of the Year award, sponsored by EROAD, acknowledges one notable professional driver for career-long professional achievements, as well as for excellence and commitment to safety on the road.

Nominees are selected from a pool of outstanding state Drivers of the Year submitted by ATA’s affiliated state trucking associations. Each candidate’s qualifications and achievements are examined by a group of industry safety professional judges who narrow down the nominees to a group of finalists. 

This year’s finalists are: 

  • Robert Crater, nominated by the North Carolina Trucking Association. Crater has 41 years of experience, the past seven with Unifi Manufacturing Inc., and has more than 2.6 million accident-free miles. Crater was the 2023 NCTA Driver of the Year, as well as the 2017 Unifi Trucking Driving Champion. 
  • Henry Grider, nominated by the Missouri Trucking Association, has been driving for 43 years, the past 15 with Transland, and has tallied 1.4 million accident-free miles. A decorated Army veteran, Grider served as an Army Ranger from 1968-1973, earning three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. He was also part of MTA Chair's Safe Driver Club from 2017-2021. 
  • David Wolford, nominated by the Ohio Trucking Association, has 20 years of experience, nearly all of it with Continental Express Inc., and nearly 2.5 million accident-free miles. He was Continental Express's 2020 Dedicated Driver of the Year as well as the winner of the 2022 OTA Driver of the Year Award. 
  • Timothy Burnett, nominated by the Trucking Association of New York, has 35 years of driving experience – the past 30 with Walmart Transportation. With 3.9 million accident-free miles, Burnett was New York’s Driver of the Year in both 2016 and 2022.  
  • Jerry Joyner, nominated by the Kansas Motor Carriers Association, has 50 years of experience, the last 33 with Walmart. With more than 6 million accident-free miles in his career, Joyner was the 2008 Leo Wozniak Award winner as well as the 2010 and 2022 KMCA Driver of the Year. 

The Safety Management Council Awards & Recognition Committee judges each video submission and selects a winner. The winner will be announced at ATA’s Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition, held in Phoenix, Arizona, in April.

TCA launches new leadership program

The Truckload Carriers Association this week announced the launch of its new “Elevate TCA Young Leadership Program.”

Designed to empower and nurture future leaders, Elevate offers an opportunity for young professionals to thrive in their careers, TCA said.

“Through mentorship, skill development and networking, participants will embark on a transformative journey, gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to reach new heights in the truckload industry,” the group added. “This young leadership program includes a mix of in-person meetings at TCA events, as well as six virtual meetings throughout 2024.”

To be eligible for the program, young leaders from TCA member companies must be under the age of 41 on March 23, 2024, and be endorsed by a supervisor to participate.

The schedule of events for the first cohort is:

  • March 5, 2024: Virtual introduction meeting
  • March 23 - 26: Annual Convention Nashville
  • April 9: First virtual meeting – Mentorship 101
  • May 14: Second virtual meeting – Workforce Development
  • June 11: Third virtual meeting – Success Stories from Industry Leaders
  • August 13: Fourth virtual meeting – Succession Planning
  • September 10: Fifth virtual meeting – Legislative Training & Government Affairs
  • September: TCA Call on Washington & Fall Business Meeting

Medical waste pickup company seeking HOS waiver

Clym Environmental Services has requested an exemption from the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations to allow its drivers up to 14 hours of drive time within the work shift or, alterenatively, up to 12 hours.

Clym, a medical waste pickup, transportation, and destruction company, said it is making the request for three contingencies:

  • When CDL A drivers are taking time off or calling off for illness or injury, in which case a relief driver is needed to transport the waste along the supply chain
  • When there is an unexpected increase in material and a trailer needs to be moved sooner than scheduled
  • When there is an upcoming issue with local and state health codes for the storage of regulated medical waste

If granted, the exemption would apply only to drivers operating on the long-haul route between Clym’s office in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and its ozone destruction plant in Greenfield, Indiana. It would not apply to any drivers operating on the company’s local routes.

Clym said the waiver, if granted, would have a minimal impact on safety, as it would allow its drivers to have more than the one mandatory 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving. Clym’s internal policy provides a one-hour company lunch break and strongly encourages its drivers to take as many breaks as necessary.

Clym added that the round trip from one plant to another and back takes about 11 hours to complete without traffic, and it considers the run to be “very easy,” as its commercial vehicles typically operate at approximately half of the 80,000-pound legal limit.

FMCSA will accept public comments on the request for 30 days beginning Wednesday, Nov. 15, at by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2023-0186.