ORLANDO, Fla. — Competition in the 80th annual American Trucking Associations National Truck Driving Championships and Step Van Driving Championships opened at the Orange County Convention Center here.
More than 420 of the trucking industry’s top professional truck drivers began the three-day competition testing their knowledge of the industry, safe driving and ability to perform a thorough pre-trip inspection.
“This week, the trucking industry’s attention turns toward showcasing our professional truck drivers and their strong safety records as we watch the industry’s elite drivers compete for prestigious honors at the National Truck Driving Championships,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Each year, this championship is a major highlight for our industry and we expect the 80th annual competition to be one for the history books.”
NTDC action starts with an introductory walkthrough of the driving course and registering for the different vehicle class events before sitting down for a written examination. Throughout the week, competitors will take part in three phases of competition: a written examination testing background knowledge of rules and procedures pertinent to the trucking industry, a vehicle inspection to test competitors’ ability to detect vehicle malfunctions, and a driving skills test where competitors are graded on their ability to operate a truck through a series of obstacles.
Over four days, 428 competitors from all 50 states, including 35 first-time participants, representing 97 companies will compete for honors in one of eight different classes (and the step van class) and the distinction of being crowned the 2017 National Truck Driving Championships Bendix Grand Champion.
Beyond the driving competition, spectators can explore the Exhibit Hall, test their driving abilities in the Interstate One truck driving simulator, shop at the official NTDC store, and spend time with friends and colleagues in the industry. Members of the media are also invited to attend Media Day on Friday, and try their hand at navigating a pared down driving course in ATA’s Share the Road truck. The truck was made famous during ATA’s historic visit to the White House when President Trump climbed into the cab and honked the horn.
“Truck drivers move the goods that we depend on for comfortable and productive lives, but are rarely celebrated for their skill and commitment to safety,” said ATA Chairman Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express Inc. “This competition puts drivers in the spotlight and brings attention to their daily excellence.”
The competition concludes Saturday with the announcement of the National Truck Driving Championships Bendix Grand Champion, along with the winners of each vehicle class and awards for the top performing state delegation, Rookie of the Year, and other recognitions.