What does it take to rack up 3 or 4 million miles behind the wheel of a big rig with no moving violations and no accidents? According to Mitchell Favors, a driver for Arnold Transport who lives in Arlington, Ga., being a good driver means controlling your attitude, staying patient and exercising good decision-making. In short, racking up that many miles without even a fender bender means being a professional.
Favors and five other “real pros” were honored by the Truckload Carriers Association in April for their exemplary careers in the group’s annual company driver and independent contractor contests. Favors, James “Marvin” Heller and Maurice “Butch” Olson were each recognized by TCA as company drivers of the year. Harvey Zander, Ronald Fugiasco and Frederick Vorwald won first through third place in the group’s independent contractor of the year contest. Each of these drivers has accumulated millions of accident-free miles with no moving violations.
Obviously one of the best drivers on the road with more than 4.1 million miles without an accident or moving violation, Favors said the key is never to “feel like you are the best driver out there.” In other words, no matter how many miles you’ve racked up or how many years you’ve sat behind the wheel, you should never believe you are so good that you let your guard down.
Vorwald, an owner-operator with Warren Transport has been driving for 34 years, 26 of those with his current company. The 3-million-mile safe driver said a person gets to be a good driver by having “respect for machines and people.
“You’ve got to want to do things the right way” and be willing to take responsibility for your actions, Vorwald said.
Not only are these men good drivers, but they are also loyal employees. Most have been with their current outfits for a number of years. Olson has spent his entire 26-year career with Umthun Trucking where he’s driven more than 2 million safe miles. He said the keys to good driving are safety and attitude. A good attitude “goes a long way with customers,” Olson added.
Like other professionals, these six are active within their communities, despite the demands their jobs place on their time. Olson is a 30-year member of the Thor, Iowa, volunteer fire department, serving as chief for 15 years. Over the years, Favors received numerous commendations for helping stranded motorists. Zander and Fugiasco both participate in the Trucker Buddy program in which truckers “adopt” a class of school kids and correspond with them as they travel the country.
When receiving their awards, each of these drivers spoke of the support they received from their families, their companies and their peers. They spoke of their life’s work with reverence, even with awe. Some, such as Zander, followed their father into the driver’s seat. Others have wanted to drive truck since they were small boys. Some learned to drive in the military.
After all those miles and all those years, each of these men still loves what he does, and it shows in the pride their companies have in them and in the way they do their jobs.
Each of these men spoke of how good trucking has been to them. Trucking has allowed them to cut out their own piece of the American dream as they’ve raised families, bought homes and helped move this economy forward.
But they have been even better for trucking. We sometimes forget when reading the negative press the industry often receives that there are many more good drivers on the road than bad ones. These six are this year’s reminder that the nation depends on the real professionals that keep this industry rolling. We are honored we had the chance to meet them.