Professional drivers and commercial vehicle inspectors have some of the toughest--and most important--jobs out there. And the very best in their fields turned out in Orlando, Florida, this past weekend to show off their skills and receive recognition for their efforts to keep our roadways safe.
Every year, inspectors conduct 3.5 million roadside inspections all across the United States. And on Saturday afternoon, fifty-four of the best safety inspectors from the U.S. and Canada came out to compete in the 2011 North American Inspectors Championship.
Hosted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the event included competitions in a variety of categories, including inspections of hazmat vehicles, passenger buses, and cargo haulers.
And FMCSA's Administrator Anne Ferro was on hand to greet this year's overall winner, John Sova--a certified North American Standard inspector from North Dakota who received the Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion Award for his performance.
Later that day, the focus turned to the professional drivers who safely and efficiently transport goods on our nation's highways every day. The 2011 National Truck Driving Championships is the largest event in the trucking industry--those in the know even call it the "Super Bowl of Safety."
Over 400 drivers from all 50 states turned out to participate in this year's event. The competition, hosted by the American Trucking Associations, puts drivers through a series of obstacle courses designed to mirror many real-world situations they face. These include an alley dock, a rear stop, a front line stop, a scales stop, a right or left turn, parallel parking, and straight line driving through a diminishing clearance.
And while these pros may make it look easy, it takes many years and many miles to master these road tests. Just ask this year's Grand Champion, Paul Phillips--the Con-way Freight truck driver from Coarsegold, California, with over 35 years of experience as a professional driver and 1.6 million miles under his belt.
Competitions like the North American Inspectors Championship and the National Truck Driving Championships are a great way to pay tribute to all of the inspectors and professional drivers out there who are working hard day in and day out to keep our roads safe. My thanks go out to all of them--and I can't wait for next year!