The American Trucking Associations' National Truck Driving Championships begins today in New Orleans.
The championship runs August 9-12 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Boulevard, New Orleans. It features state champion truck drivers from all 50 states competing in the 'Superbowl of Safety' in nine types of trucks and trailers.
This morning, sponsor ExxonMobil hosts a media breakfast and Safety Roundtable to highlight industry safety initiatives that have contributed to safer trucks and automobiles, and to discuss how motorists and truck drivers might do a better job of safely sharing the road.
The roundtable will be moderated by Newport's own Steve Sturgess, Editor of RoadStar magazine, Senior Editor of Heavy Duty Trucking, and a CDL holder and accident-free truck driver for 20 years. It features two-time National Truck Driving Champion Marty Lawson (Harley Davidson), and ATA America's Road Team truck drivers Marty and Lisa Fortun (Schneider National), Darren Beard (Con-Way Central), and Don Nehring (FedEx Ground). Scot Bishop, director of safety and training for Viking Freight -- and chairman of the competition -- is also a panelist.
Right after the roundtable, before the serious shifting and steering begins, the media can test their double-clutching and downshifting skills by driving the championship course--with America's Road Team drivers along in the passenger seat, and available for advice and assistance (or to hit the brakes when necessary).
The real truck drivers begin their competition on Thursday, August 10, with personal interviews and pre-trip inspection competition. Then, they'll start working their rigs through a still-secret skills course featuring tough driving, stopping, parking, and backing-up challenges.
The championship finals begin Saturday morning. Awards will be made in nine truck categories: straight truck, 3-axle, 4-axle, 5-axle, tank truck, flatbed, 5-axle sleeper, twins, and auto transporter.
The National Truck Driving Grand Champion will be announced later at an evening banquet. The 2000 champion's first official appearance will be in Atlanta, GA on Monday, August 14, as ATA kicks-off National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.