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TCA names 3 ABF Freight System drivers as Highway Angels

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Tca names 3 abf freight system drivers as highway angels
Left to right, Joseph Wilbur, Jim Kurent and Terry Whittington, all drivers for ABF Freight System of Fort Smith, Arkansas, have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association. (Courtesy: TRUCKLOAD CARRIERS ASSOCIATION)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Joseph Wilbur, Jim Kurent and Terry Whittington have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association for heroic actions while on duty.

Kurent, who lives in Burlington, Vermont, and drivers for ABF Freight System of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was recognized for acting quickly to avoid a major highway collision.

On January 19, Kurent was on a two-lane highway in Vermont when a Subaru going in the opposite direction at 50 mph when it crossed over the center line right in front of him. Without a moment to spare, he swerved to avoid hitting the car head-on. The car bounced off the side of Kurent’s truck and ended up on the other side of the road.

Kurent’s truck slid in to a ditch, but he was able to get out of the cab. Uninjured, he walked over to check on the driver of the Subaru. It was later determined that the man was apparently listening to a book on tape and was distracted; the motorist did not notice he had drifted into oncoming traffic.

“I wouldn’t say this was a heroic deed, but I was just alert and doing my job as I always do,” Kurent said. “The driver of the car made a comment that my actions saved his life. I don’t know about that. But if I wouldn’t have been alert and swerved into the ditch, 50 miles an hour versus 50 miles an hour head-on would not have turned out as safe as it did.”

Wilbur, who lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and is a professional truck driver with ABF Freight System, was recognized for assisting at the scene of an accident caused by a wrong-way driver.

It was 3 a.m. and Wilbur had just left New Haven, Connecticut, and was northbound on I-95. Wilbur is a utility driver for ABF but was filling in for someone that night. Driving along, something  caught his attention on the southbound side. Taillights. A wrong-way driver was in the left lane driving north, against traffic.

Wilbur called 911 and was connected to a dispatcher with the Connecticut State Police. He managed to keep pace with the wrong-way driver, calling out mile markers and exits along the way to the dispatcher.

Thankfully, traffic was light. Southbound drivers were doing their best to avoid a collision. However, Wilbur said, the wrong-way driver never slowed down or swerved. As the driver approached a cluster of vehicles, one car didn’t have enough time to move out of the way.

The wrong-way driver hit the vehicle head-on, spinning it off to the side as the wrong-way driver’s vehicle rolled multiple times, right next to Wilbur, and landed on its roof. Wilbur quickly pulled to the shoulder and jumped the barrier. He could see red flashing lights coming toward the scene. It was an EMT, driving solo on his way back from a transport.

Wilbur and the EMT managed to pull back the driver’s door and found the driver unconscious and hanging upside down, still in his seat belt. Wilbur told the EMT he would help him extract the man. The EMT handed him sterile gloves and Wilbur crawled into the car to lift the pressure off the belt as the EMT cut it.

They then slid the driver out of the vehicle as he regained consciousness and began thrashing about. Wilbur stayed with the driver, who appeared to have head injuries, and kept him still while the EMT retrieved a neck collar.

Whittington, who lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and is a professional truck driver with ABF Freight System, also of Fort Smith, has been recognized for helping a fellow truck driver that was struck by a passing motorist while inspecting his vehicle.

It was 7:30 a.m. in June 2018, and Whittington was leaving Fontana, California, on Interstate 10 on his way back to his home terminal in Phoenix. He slowed as he saw an accident up ahead of him. Another tractor-trailer was parked on the right shoulder and Whittington could see what appeared to be a tarp lying in the road. However, as he got closer, he  realized it was a man lying in the road. Whittington quickly pulled to the right shoulder and ran over to the man, calling 911 as he did so. The driver was conscious and crying out for someone to help him get up.

Whittington learned the man was a driver for Roehl Transport who had pulled over to check his equipment when he was struck by a U-Haul vehicle pulling a car. The U-Haul had drifted toward the right shoulder when it struck the Roehl driver. The man’s legs were badly injured. Whittington got a jacket from his cab to place over the driver as he was clearly in shock and losing a great deal of blood. Whittington stayed with the driver to comfort him until first responders arrived. He later learned the driver passed away in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

“It was horrible,” Whittington said. “I just wanted to sit there and cry.” Over the ensuing days he had a hard time sleeping. “I kept envisioning that poor man and how he was asking me to help him get up. All he did was pull over to check his equipment and now he’s dead. People need to pay more attention when they’re out there on the road.”

Whittington has been a teamster for 32 years and has worked for ABF Freight for three years.

For their willingness to help in a time of need, Wilbur, Kurent and Whittington were presented with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. ABF Freight has also received a certificate acknowledging their drivers as Highway Angels. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job. EpicVue sponsors TCA’s Highway Angel program.

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Minnesota Trucking Association names Scott Post as 2019 driver of the year

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Minnesota trucking association names 2019 driver of the year
Scott Post, a contract truck driver for FedEx Ground, has been selected as the Minnesota Driver of the Year by the Minnesota Trucking Association. Post has been driving a truck for 41 years and has more than 2.5 million safe miles. (Courtesy: Minnesota Trucking Association)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The Minnesota Trucking Association named Maplewood, Minnesota resident, Scott Post, a professional truck driver contracted for FedEx Ground in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the 2019 Minnesota Driver of the.

“This award is a great way to honor the best in our industry. Driving safe is no easy task, especially when you take into consideration his daily driving conditions like congestion, driver distractions and Minnesota winters. Having 2.5 million safe driving miles is an outstanding accomplishment,” said John Hausladen, MTA president. “We’re proud to award Scott for this achievement.”

Post is employed by Spartan Logistics in Newport, Minnesota which is a contracted service provider for FedEx Ground. FedEx Ground provides 1-5-day delivery of small packages to all 50 states, plus Canada. Scott has been driving a truck for 41 years and has driven more than 2.5 million safe miles.

“Scott Post is one of the safest, most attentive, detail-oriented drivers I’ve ever had,” said Randy Kurek, Owner of Spartan Logistics. “He’s always ready to learn and at the same time, is a sponge for industry knowledge. He lives and breathes trucking.”  In addition to being an outstanding professional truck driver, Post is involved with many community organizations, including Operation Lifesaver, the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics and the Minnesota Trucking Association’s Trucks for Toys program.

Throughout 2019, drivers are nominated by their companies and one driver is chosen each month to be the Driver of the Month. The drivers who are chosen meet a high standard of requirements including an outstanding driving and work record; contribution to industry and highway safety; and involvement in the community.

In January, MTA hosts the Driver of the Year Banquet and one of the twelve nominees is selected as Driver of the Year by a panel of judges including Matthew Marin, division administrator for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Deb Ledvina, director of commercial vehicle operations at MnDOT; and Captain Jon Olsen, Minnesota State Patrol.

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The Nation

Transportation Secretary calls on industry to ‘Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking’

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trucks on highway
The Department of Transportation wants to train the transportation workforce, including professional truck drivers, on the issue of human trafficking. The DOT anticipates over 1 million employees across all modes of transportation will be trained because of this program. (iStock.com/WendellandCarolyn)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has announced a series of efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. Secretary Chao was joined by leaders from Congress, state governments and the transportation industry responding to this call to action.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to working with our public and private partners to fight human trafficking on America’s transportation system,” Chao said.

Among the initiatives announced by Secretary Chao is a renewed focus on the “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge to train the transportation workforce and raise public awareness on the issue of human trafficking across all modes of transportation.  Secretary Chao is challenging the transportation industry to commit to “100 Pledges in 100 Days.” The Department anticipates over 1 million employees across all modes of transportation will be trained because of this initiative.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, affecting millions of adults and children in the United States and worldwide. Victims are of every age, race, gender, background, citizenship, and immigration status. Some are trafficked within their own communities on various forms of transportation, while others are transported to new locations.

To amplify counter-trafficking efforts, Secretary Chao established an annual $50,000 award to incentivize individuals and entities, including non-governmental organizations, transportation industry associations, research institutions, and state and local government organizations, to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry. The Department will review applications and determine the individual or entity that will most effectively utilize these funds to combat human trafficking.

Secretary Chao also announced $5.4 million in grant selections through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative. Twenty-four organizations across the country will each receive funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation. A list of the selected projects is available online.

To support the Department’s counter-trafficking efforts, the DOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report in July 2019 that recommends actions the Department can take to help combat human trafficking and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders.

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The Nation

Former NASCAR driver and Talladega’s iconic trucker John Ray dies at 82

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Former nascar driver and talladega superspeedway’s iconic trucker john ray dies at 82
John Ray whose diesel big rig sporting the giant American flag became iconic during the track’s national anthem performances, has died. (Courtesy: Talladega Superspeedway)

TALLADEGA, Ala. —John Ray, whose big rig sporting a giant American flag became iconic during Talladega Superspeedway’s national anthem performances, has died, according to a news release. The former NASCAR driver was 82 years old.

Since 2001, Ray had driven his gold, brown and chrome Peterbilt with a large American flag down the Talladega frontstretch prior to the start of races.

“National anthems at Talladega Superspeedway are the most iconic, and it’s because of our great friend John Ray,” said Speedway President Brian Crichton. “What he brought to our fans can’t be duplicated. He was an incredible, passionate man who supported the track and all of motorsports with everything he had. His spirit will live here forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ray family.”

For more than 40 years, Ray was a member of the White Flag Club, a dedicated service group of local businessmen from surrounding communities that assist during race weekends.

In 2001, after the 9/11 terror attacks and the tragic passing of his longtime friend Dale Earnhardt Sr., Ray, along with then Talladega Superspeedway Track Chairman Grant Lynch, looked to boost the morale of a country, and a fan base that had gone through tough times.

“I had a crazy idea to run my rig out on the track with an American flag attached to the back,” said Ray, who lived down the street from the track in Eastaboga, three years ago. “It started off as a tribute to the country and to Dale.

“I never thought it would become the heart-felt moment that it has over the past some-odd years, but I’m glad it has become a tradition that means so much to the fans and the Talladega family. It represents such a sense of pride that we all share together as a nation and as a community. It is my honor and privilege to do it,” added Ray, who eventually gave up the driving duties of his big rig and handed them off to his late friend Roger Haynes, and last year to his son Johnny.

That wasn’t Ray’s first time at the 2.66-mile track. Ray, who owned “John Ray Trucking Company” since the early 70s, actually set the world speed record for a semi-truck and trailer around the mammoth track at 92.083 mph in 1975 — in a powerful Kenworth.

“We were testing brakes for a company out at the track,” Ray said. “One thing led to another — and there I was truck, trailer, and all — making my way around the track, trying to set a speed record. It was something else.”

Ray drove in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1974-1976. He competed in eight races, four at Talladega (where his best career finish was 22nd in 1974), but an accident at Daytona in 1976 ended his driving career. He continued as a car owner and essentially gave one of the sport’s greatest legends one of his first opportunities: 10-time Talladega winner Earnhardt. It would be Earnhardt’s third career start.

To read the full release, visit Talladega Superspeedway’s website.

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