In a world often captivated by the allure of superpowers, ornate capes and iconic emblems, Goodyear has been crafting a 40-year legacy of illuminating the extraordinary acts of the everyday heroes among us. The well-known tire company is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Highway Hero Award, a prestigious program dedicated to recognizing commercial drivers who go above and beyond their regular duties to help others and subsequently keep our highways safe.
A Special Year for a Special Award
This year, Goodyear has a lot to celebrate. In addition to celebrating the 40th year of its Highway Hero Award, the renowned company is celebrating its 125th anniversary. To mark this banner year in a big way, Goodyear will select not one, but two, Highway Hero Award winners from an expanded pool of eligible commercial drivers. Goodyear is now accepting award nominations for any heroic driver with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), regardless of whether they drive a long-haul truck, dump truck, or other regional delivery or vocational vehicle, such as a school bus.
“The Goodyear team is so proud to be involved with the Highway Hero Award for 40 years, and we are honored to take time each year to recognize professional drivers who have performed very courageous acts to help others,” said Tom Lippello, senior director, commercial marketing at Goodyear. “We are thrilled to expand the pool of nominees this year to include even more incredible drivers on the road, such as delivery drivers, bus drivers, and many others. This exciting change is a testament to Goodyear’s commitment to celebrating the commercial trucking industry and the important role of everyday drivers. They are the lifeblood of our nation, transporting passengers safely and keeping goods and services moving about the country on a daily basis."
A Rich History of Heroism
Courageousness, humility, and professionalism are just a few words that describe the four decades of award recipients who have put their lives on the line to rescue others. The incredible stories of heroism are awe-inspiring and serve as a reminder that when emergencies arise, there are extraordinary heroes among us who don’t think twice before jumping into action.
Last year, J.B. Hunt Transport driver Andrew Waits of Tacoma, Washington, was named the winner of the 2022 Goodyear Highway Hero Award. He was recognized for his swift thinking in an emergency situation. As a result of an accident, a motorcyclist was thrown from his vehicle on a busy, four-lane highway. Thinking fast, Andrew quickly positioned his tractor trailer to shield the unconscious motorcyclist from oncoming traffic and attended to the injured man using skills he learned as a volunteer firefighter until first responders could arrive.
An abundance of stories of bravery underscore 40 years of remarkable heroism on the road. In 2021, award recipient, Gerald “Andy” Wright, encountered a vehicle on fire following an accident. Equipped with nothing more than a fire extinguisher and load bar, Wright sprang into action, suppressing the fire as much as possible and pulling trapped occupants from the vehicle to safety. Past winners also include a truck driver who rescued a family of six from a crushed minivan, a driver who saved a woman from a gun-wielding attacker, and a driver who pulled an elderly man from a car before it was destroyed by an oncoming train.
Highway Hero’s History
The Highway Hero Award was originally started by Heavy Duty Trucking, a leading publication for commercial truck fleet news. In 1983, Goodyear took ownership of the program, maintaining the award name and all it stands for. In its first few decades, Goodyear placed newspaper ads in key markets across the country to get the word out to potential award applicants.
“Looking back at the early years of the award, it was a very different world in terms of the channels we could use to share our message,” said Cody Adams, Americas business communications manager at Goodyear. “From print advertising and snail mail in the '80s to the streamlined online communications of today, a lot has changed. What hasn’t changed is the incredible heroism of drivers and our commitment to sharing their stories of bravery.”
From Nomination to Celebration
Although the Highway Hero Award is bestowed annually, a dedicated team works tirelessly throughout the year to plan and organize the award communications strategy, evaluation processes, and prizes. The award process kicks off with a call for entries in the fall. Once the entry deadline is reached, a panel of Goodyear representatives review the applicants and narrow down a list of qualified entrants. Then a panel of trucking media professionals analyze the list to arrive at a handful of heroes to be recognized. The evaluation process takes about three to four weeks, and winners are publicly announced at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition event in March. The 2024 exhibition will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Good Deeds Deserve Great Rewards
No good deed should go unnoticed, especially when it comes to deeds of great heroism. In addition to being honored at a special press conference at the TMC event, Highway Hero Award recipients receive several other gifts of appreciation. The top winner receives a travel package to enjoy the city where TMC is held with family or friends. Winners also receive a cash award, a special crystal award and several other items, including a television and a set of Goodyear consumer tires for their personal vehicle.
An Enduring Legacy
Looking ahead, Goodyear’s Highway Hero Award will continue to shine a light on the amazing acts of drivers and will serve as a glowing reminder that everyday heroes are all around us.
Entries can be submitted by drivers who display an act of heroism or by their place of work, colleagues, or family and friends.
“The professionalism, courageousness and humility of these drivers is an inspiration. Over the past four decades, we have seen incredible stories of bravery and heroism — and each year we have seen the number of nominations increase as the word continues to spread about this great program, Lippello added. “We look forward to continuing this remarkable legacy honoring these special heroes for many years to come.”
For more information about Goodyear’s Highway Hero Award, visit goodyeartrucktires.com.