Earlier this year, Danny Jewell had a DOT physical and got the unsettling news that he’d only get a three-month approval. He was overweight and a candidate for a sleep apnea test.
That was shortly before Jewell was named Owner-Operator of the Year by the Truckload Carriers Association and Overdrive. Nominations for this year’s edition of that contest are now being accepted by TCA. The top three finalists will be announced in January 2020, and the grand prize winner will be announced during TCA’s 2020 Annual Convention, March 1-3, 2020, at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida. The winner will receive $25,000.
The grand prize winner is recognized based on his or her ability to operate in a safe manner on the public highways, efforts to enhance the public image of the trucking industry, positive contributions to the community in which he or she lives, and ability to run a successful business.
Since winning the contest in March, Jewell said he has gotten serious about his health. He walks daily – as much as 18 miles a week – and eats from the CDL Meals food delivery service. Jewell says it’s paid off. He has lost 30 pounds and gained a good deal of optimism.
“I want to keep on truckin’ about another 10 years,” said Jewell at the TCA booth during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas last week. “To do that, I knew I had to lose the weight. When I received my award (at the TCA convention in Las Vegas in March) I was at 235. Today I’m at 205.”
Jewell said winning the TCA/Overdrive award has also given him the opportunity to talk to other truckers about safety.
“My three things are patience, attitude and respect,” Jewell said. “I have slowed myself down. I sometimes get in a hurry and I say to myself, ‘Danny you’re better than this. Slow yourself down.’”
And, he has truly slowed down. He said he used to run 68 mph on four-lane highways and 58 mph on two-lanes. Now he drives 66 and 56 mph with the 2020 Cascadia Evolution he now drives on a dedicated run for Nutrablend through an eight-state area in the Midwest.
“It’s better and safer and you get there in just the same amount of time because you’re not fighting traffic,” he said.
He also reminded truckers not to get mad at other motorists who he said will do “stupid stuff.”
Jewell said winning the award has also allowed him to learn more about the trucking industry.
“I have a different outlook on life,” said Jewell, who has driven for 51 years and 7 million safe miles for Waterloo, Iowa’s Warren Transport. “I’ve met so many nice people and learned different sides of the industry I didn’t know before.”