Dart driver Randy Peterson has training simulator and 41 years of experience in tow
Dart Inc. driver Randy Peterson says with today’s traffic and in-cab distractions, he’s not sure if he could repeat his 4.5 million accident- and violation-free mile mark if he started from scratch. But he’d be willing to try.
He’s been laboring on the record since he was 18, when he began carrying intrastate loads in Iowa. He then picked up an Illinois license, allowing him to drive in both states. Since getting licensed to drive more widely in 1970, he’s pulled tankers, hauled flatbed and purchased a few trucks of his own.
Now a resident of Denton, Texas, Peterson picked up the trade from his father, who owned and operated trucks in the Midwest, and 41 years after starting, he’s still rolling up miles hauling a training simulator for Dart nationwide, teaching and training drivers and the general public.
Peterson started the gig about four years ago, after Dart acquired the simulator. He had been doing in-office safety training and working in the hiring and screening department for the company part-time while still driving.
The current job fits him well, he says, because he gets to drive 70,000 miles per year hauling the simulator in its 53-foot trailer and is still able to teach safety training.
“I enjoy working with safety, and I enjoy working with drivers,” Peterson says. “I didn’t care much for working in an office. Not really my cup of tea at all. I drive, and I teach. I say that’s a great combination.”
The simulator Peterson runs is a full-motion simulator that he says “puts drivers through their paces,” helping them learn from habits they have and learn how to respond in lifelike situations, such as occurrences of equipment failure.
“I put them into a class and then put them into the simulator to see what happens,” Peterson says. “There’s a certain challenge in working with drivers in safety training, but I enjoy doing that part of it, too.”
Editor’s Note: Randy Peterson is a finalist for the 2012 Company Driver of the Year, which is sponsored by Truckers News and the Truckload Carriers Association. The winner will be announced at TCA’s annual convention, March 4-7, 2012 in Orlando, Fla.
Q & A
Q: What’s one thing you always carry with you in your truck on the road?
A: Nowadays, my phone. Always have to have it.
Q: What advice would you give younger drivers?
A: Have patience. With traffic the way it is these days — younger drivers may not realize how much worse it is than what it used to be — you have to be patient. Try to avoid distractions. I like to tell young drivers to educate their friends and family about trucks and what it takes for us to maneuver safely. Also, make sure your equipment is in good shape and communicate what your intentions are to the people around you. Use your signals, even if there’s just one car around.
Q: What is your most memorable moment in your years of trucking?
A: I don’t know why this one always stands out, but it’s a funny story. My brother was riding with me, and we were making a trip up to Seattle, Wash., in 1975. I was going up the hill, and the chains were sparking. I told my brother we had to get them off or we would tear them up. I pulled over, opened up the door, jumped out and slid about 100 yards before I stopped. I turned around and said, “guess I’ll leave the chains on, then.”