One of my favorite experiences in the trucking industry was the year I was asked to be on the panel of judges to choose the American Trucking Associations' America's Road Team.
The team is made up of a dozen professional truck drivers, each with an exemplary safety record and a demonstrated personal commitment to educating the public about highway safety and spreading the word about the positive aspects of the trucking industry. The drivers, known as Road Team Captains, deliver the trucking industry's safety message to driver education classes, schools, business groups, safety organizations, the news media, regulatory agencies and the U.S. Congress. They will also talk safety with their professional colleagues in driver meetings and at annual truck shows.
In addition, America's Road Team Captains share their experience and advice to help educate four-wheelers on how to share the road safely with large trucks.
Choosing the top drivers is no easy task. I was amazed at the backgrounds and abilities of those who made the finals. As a judge, I had the opportunity to watch these exemplary drivers deliver speeches, be interviewed by the media and field difficult questions from the judges.
When you take a quick peek at the range of Road Team activities scheduled for this year, it becomes obvious why the screening process is so intense. Events include the Elvis Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio; national radio news feeds on winter driving, vacation driving tips, and work zone safety; and interviews on national news programs and in national publications including Parade Magazine. The team also appears at numerous state truck driving championships and at the ATA's National Truck Driving Championships.
Candidates for the new Road Team must be full-time truck drivers, either as company drivers or as independent owner-operators. They also must have an outstanding safety record and be able to clearly communicate their commitment to safety and professionalism. The nominating company must be a full dues-paying member of ATA.
If you haven't involved your top drivers in this process, I recommend you consider it. Showing your drivers you believe they have the stuff to belong to America's Road Team can add to driver esteem and loyalty to you and your company.
Grooming drivers to be a part of the road team can only improve your driver team as a whole and your company's public image. So participating in this program is not only good for the industry as a whole, it's good for your company and your drivers.
The nomination deadline is Aug. 31, 2006. Semi-finalists will be announced in October at the 2006 ATA Management Conference and Exhibition in Dallas, Texas. Final judging will take place at ATA Headquarters in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 15 through 18, 2007, with announcement of the 2007-08 America's Road Team scheduled for Jan. 19, 2007.
The America's Road Team program is sponsored by Volvo Trucks North America. Volvo considers the Road Team an apt extension of the corporation's core safety message.
Application forms are available from America's Road Team, 2200 Mill Road, Alexandria, VA 22314; by fax request (703) 684-5718; or by download from www.truckline.com (click on Public Affairs, then Image Programs for form).
E-mail Deb Whistler at [email protected]