Baker's Dozen

Robert Lake
[email protected]

They are 12 men and one woman – 13 truckers in all. They come from all over the country and all parts of the industry. They work for LTL and truckload carriers. They haul for for-hire and private fleets. And they are owner-operators and company drivers.

Between them, they have driven more than 20 million accident free miles.

They are the 2003 America’s Road Team captains, and they are on the road to represent your interests and make your life safer. In April, the American Trucking Associations selected 13 drivers and one alternate to serve on its Road Team. They will fan out over the next year to media outlets, civic groups and schools carrying the torch for safety.

The program, which is now in its 17th year, is one of the best examples of what’s right about our industry. The mainstream media often portray truckers in a negative light, but Road Team captains help set the record straight. With all the challenges facing the industry, the new team has a big job ahead of them.

I think they’re up to the task. Consider new captain Michael Smucker, a 14-year veteran of Yellow Transportation. He has logged more than 1.5 million safe miles in his career, never once having a preventable accident. He describes himself as a goal-oriented and challenge-driven individual. In addition to his CDL, he carries a pilot’s license. He knows a lot about safety and wants to spread that message to motorists and the media, who often represent big rigs as unsafe.

“Many people I talk to have the impression that trucks are inherently dangerous and truck drivers aren’t good drivers,” he says. “Someone needs to spread the word that we can be safe on the road together if we are educated and considerate.”

Or take Roadway Express’ Charon Crites, who has 2.4 million accident-free miles. The soft-spoken Californian comes from a family of truckers; her mother is a retired linehaul driver. And her passion for trucking extends to her granddaughter, who one day hopes to be a trucker, too. A decade ago, Crites began speaking to high school driver education classes and to truck driver training schools. Now she plans to spread that message to motorists nationwide. “Since there are so many more vehicles on the road, it has become even more important to get a safety message to the motoring public about