Enlisting the Aid of Professional Drivers to Improve Trucking's Public Image
Professional truck drivers actively represent their industry daily on the nation's highways. They are an often-untapped public relations resource in spreading the trucking industry's message of safety, essentiality, sustainability and professionalism.
That's where America's Road Team fits in. America's Road Team is a national public outreach program led by a small group of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills, remarkable safety records and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway.
The American Trucking Assns. created America's Road Team in 1986 to reach out to the trucking industry and the motoring public. The Road Team comprises a handful of the nation's top professional drivers, selected from a variety of geographic regions and trucking companies. Drivers selected for the team spend two years as spokespersons and representatives of the industry at various public events.
The drivers continue to work for their employers, but spend an average of one to five days a month on America's Road Team business. Road Team drivers are screened and trained to be well-prepared for a variety of public speaking engagements, including interviews with print and broadcast media.
America's Road Team is comprised of professional truck drivers chosen for their excellent safety records and outstanding communication skills. The members are known as Road Team Captains. Road Team Captains travel the country speaking on behalf of the trucking industry to civic organizations and the news media. The Captains address transportation and safety issues in any forum at which they can reach the motoring public to share safe driving tips and offer advice on how to safely share the road with tractor-trailers.
Road Team Captains are also dressed for success. Decked out in striking navy blue blazers emblazoned with a Road Team insignia, crisp white shirts and red ties, these truck drivers stand out in a crowd.
An example of the use of Road Team members are a public event was a recent "Trucking Day" at the Texas State Capitol hosted by Texas Motor Transportation Assn. and Southwest Movers Assn. in an effort to promote highway safety among motorists and educate Texans on new transportation technology. Industry executives from across the state were in town speaking to elected officials about legislative issues and took the opportunity to discuss the trucking associations; priorities safety, responsibility and efficiency on Texas' highways.
In an effort to raise awareness among Texas drivers, the association hosted safety demonstrations and exhibited the American Trucking Associations' Share the Road truck. This education is designed to reduce the number of car-truck accidents by showing motorists the correct techniques on how to drive around and near commercial vehicles.
Leading the safety demonstrations were America's Road Team Captains Gary Babbitt (Central Freight Lines - Texas), Ralph Garcia (ABF Freight System - New Mexico) Loren Hatfield (ABF Freight Systems - Arkansas), Don Logan (FedEx Freight - Kansas). Together, they represent more than 108 years of experience behind the wheel and more than 10.6 million accident-free miles driven.
"Trucking Day is an extraordinary opportunity to showcase the vital industry that Texas trucking is," said TMTA President and CEO John D. Esparza. "Many Texans do not realize that trucks transport more than 2.7 million tons per day and one out of every 16 workers are employed by the Texas trucking industry. The road is our work place and we must make certain that all Texans know how to share our highways, ensuring a safe and effective transportation system."
Road Team Captains also advocate safety to those within the industry by visiting service centers and truck stops, speaking with fellow drivers, driver training students, and corporate safety officers. Also, since they have the insight afforded by first-hand knowledge, they often provide expert testimony on the issues of commercial driving directly to our public officials, at the national, state and local levels.
Nineteen truck drivers to represent the industry as the 2013-2014 America's Road Team. The drivers were selected from 32 finalists who competed before a panel of judges to gain their spot on the team. Drivers are selected based on their safety records, experience and ability to speak in public and present a good public face.
The competition tested drivers' knowledge of the trucking industry and communication skills, and reviewed their community service and safety records. The captains have a collected 453 years of experience and more than 30.1 million accident-free miles.
The 2013-2014 America's Road Team captains are:
- Don Biggerstaff, ABF Freight System, Maiden, N.C.
- John Borman, Koch Trucking, Lino Lakes, Minn.
- Byron Bramwell, YRC Freight, Centerview, Mo.
- Ted Carlson, FedEx Freight, Vancouver, Wash.
- Donald Conklin, YRC Freight, La Porte, Ind.
- Herschel Evans, Holland Inc., Bremen, Ga.
- Jeffrey Halford, Con-way Freight, Meridian, Idaho
- Loren Hatfield, ABF Freight System, Maumelle, Ark.
- Stephanie Klang, Con-way Truckload, Diamond, Mo.
- John Lex, Wal-Mart Transportation, Monroe, Ga.
- Don Logan, FedEx Freight, Eskridge, Kan.
- Rod Miles, Con-way Freight, Lauderhill, Fla.
- Thomas Miller, Prime Inc., Bunker Hill, Ill.
- Otto Schmeckenbecher, ABF Freight System, Little Rock, Ark.
- Todd Stine, Carbon Express, Altoona, Pa.
- Clarence "Eddie" Weeks, AAA Cooper, Silver Springs, Fla.
- Nathan Wick, UPS Freight, Isanti, Minn.
- Dale Williams, Trimac Transportation, Centerville, Ala.
- Bryan Wold, Con-way Freight, Reile's Acres, N.D.
"America's Road Team represents the best our industry has to offer: pride, professionalism and dedication to making our highways safer for all who travel them," ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement.
ABF, a fleet that has had dozens of its drivers represented on America's Road Team over the years has this to say about the program:
"ABF is a strong supporter of ATA's America's Road Team program, and we are particularly proud that the Team has consistently included ABF drivers among its ranks," says ABF President and Chief Executive Officer Wes Kemp. "Continuous pursuit of quality improvement, as seen in the accomplishments of these drivers, is part of ABF's corporate culture."
To be nominated to serve as a Road Team Captain, candidates must be employed as a company driver or leased owner-operator by a full-dues-paying member of ATA. Each nominee must have an excellent safety record and demonstrate an ability to communicate a commitment to safety and professionalism.
America's Road Team is sponsored by Volvo Trucks.
For more information visit www.americasroadteam.com