Professional truck drivers from all corners of the country are gathering in Orlando, Florida, this week for the annual National Truck Driving Championship, a 5-day event sponsored by the American Trucking Associations as a way to make safe driving a goal and a source of pride for thousands of drivers.
The National Truck Driving Championship, together with its 50 state-level championships, is regarded as one of the trucking industry’s largest and most effective programs. Known as the “Super Bowl of Safety,” the annual competitions inspire drivers to maintain a safe and accident-free driving record for the right to compete.
According to the American Trucking Associations, the Championships are a great incentive for professional truck drivers to operate safely, because they must be accident-free for at least one year prior to the competition. Many of the competitors even have millions of accident-free driving miles to their credit.
Competitive divisions within the competition include straight truck, three-axle, four-axle, five-axle, tank truck, flatbed, five-axle sleeper, twins, and step van. In the comprehensive competition, each driver nominated to the national championships must demonstrate his or her professional driving skills, knowledge, and professionalism through a series of competitions, including a written examination, personal interview, pre-trip inspection test, and skills test involving braking, parking, backing, and maneuvering.
Many competing drivers describe the experience as like being in the Olympics, where winning is the goal but the excitement, prestige, and camaraderie all make the event alluring.
Awards are given for first, second, and third place finishes, and drivers also vie for the professional Excellence Award, the Vehicle Condition Award, the Rookie of the Year Award, and the most coveted designation – the Grand Champion Award.
According to the ATA, the National Truck Driving Championship has a long history going back to 1937, when the event was known as the National Truck “Road”eo.