FLEET INSIDER/ DRIVER OF THE MONTH
Big G driver Danny Smith employs an observant approach to his career and his safety record
Big G Express driver Danny Smith cut his teeth hauling milk intrastate for a company near the Shelbyville community in Tennessee where he grew up. He was raised on a farm, drove equipment, and when he graduated from high school in the late 1970s, he joined a friend attending driving school.
After bouncing around to a few different carriers, he saw a newspaper ad in 1995 for the newly founded Big G Express. “I knew the people up at Big G, and I went over there and they put me to work,” Smith says. He was one of five drivers then, and the company has since grown to own more than 400 trucks.
In the same span, Smith passed the 2.5 million safe-mile mark, and being open-minded, he says, has pushed him to success as a driver.
“I learn something new every day,” he says. “That helps me be successful. I’m not close-minded. I don’t know everything, and I don’t close myself off to learning.”
He also attributes his safety record to constant awareness of implications of driving poorly. “I always remember I have a wife and two kids,” he says, “and that could be them in the car next to me. I don’t want to hurt anybody, and I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t let anything or anybody push me, and I don’t let traffic push me.”
He says he also had good mentors when he started his career, and older drivers at some of his first carriers would answer his questions. He encourages young drivers to do that today.
“There were drivers I looked up to, and they were always willing to advise me,” he says. “It’s good to have that getting started, and I think experienced drivers need to help young drivers and young drivers need to be accepting of the help.”
Q & A
Q: What advice would you give younger drivers?
Smith: Research companies to see if they have good safety scores, good equipment. Attach yourself with a better, older driver who can kind of mentor you a little and someone you can lean on if you have questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t know something, ask somebody.
Q: What’s the worst load you’ve ever carried?
Smith: Scrap metal. The load was run down the middle of the trailer. It was like engine blocks out of engines from ships. It was hard. They said they’d secured it, and I didn’t have any problem with it, but it bothered me a lot. I took pictures of it because I was so uncomfortable with it.
Danny Smith is a finalist in the 2012 Company Driver of the Year contest produced by Truckers News and the Truckload Carriers Association. The winner will be announced at TCA’s annual convention March 3-6, 2013, in Las Vegas.