Hosted by the Safety Management Council of the American Trucking Assns., the four-day event will bring 350 drivers from 49 states and the District of Columbia to compete.
The drivers are given a written examination, personal interview, pre-trip inspection test, and field test. The field course simulates actual driving conditions in terms of braking, parking, backing, maneuvering through tight spots, etc.
After three days of competition, one driver is named Grand Champion.
"Truckers get a lot of bad press because of a few bad apples, but this shows that safety is what we're all about," says Larry Davis, a safety supervisor for Wilson Trucking in Greensboro, NC, who has two truck drivers in the competition.
In order to compete in the national championships, drivers had to win company and state competitions. The program has been in existence since 1937.
In conjunction with the truck driving championships, 60 truck and bus safety inspectors will also be competing in Tampa. The North American Inspectors Championship will allow the inspectors to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in vehicle, driver, and hazmat safety inspections. They also will attend training seminars during the week. The event is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, an international organization of truck and bus safety enforcement agencies and industry representatives.