ATA reveals finalists for National Driver of the Year Award

Nov. 15, 2023
ATA announces its finalists for the National Driver of the Year Award ahead of the Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition to be held April 2024.

The American Trucking Associations' Safety Management Council announced five professional truck driver finalists for the 2023 ATA National Driver of the Year Award.

"The Driver of the Year Award honors professional drivers for their commitment to safety and professionalism," said Jacob Pierce, SMC executive director. "These five candidates have all demonstrated real dedication to this industry over their careers. On behalf of ATA and the SMC, I want to congratulate them." 

See also: Gallery: A look back at ATA MCE 2023

The ATA National Driver of the Year Award acknowledges one notable professional driver for career-long professional achievements, excellence, and commitment to safety on the road. Nominees are selected from a pool of outstanding state Drivers of the Year submitted by ATA's affiliated state trucking associations. A group of industry safety professional judges evaluate each candidate's qualifications and achievements and narrow down the nominees to a group of finalists. This year's finalists are: 

  • Robert Crater was nominated by the North Carolina Trucking Association. He has 41 years of experience, the past seven with Unifi Manufacturing Inc., and has driven more than 2.6 million accident-free miles. Crater was the 2023 North Carolina Trucking Association Driver of the Year and the 2017 Unifi Trucking Driving Champion.  

  • Henry Grider, nominated by the Missouri Trucking Association. Grider has been driving for 43 years, the past 15 with Transland, and has tallied 1.4 million accident-free miles. A decorated Army veteran, Grider served as an Army Ranger from 1968-1973, earning three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star. He was also part of the MTA Chair's Safe Driver Club from 2017-2021. 

  • David Wolford, nominated by the Ohio Trucking Association, has 20 years of experience, nearly all with Continental Express Inc., and almost 2.5 million accident-free miles. He was Continental Express's 2020 Dedicated Driver of the Year and the 2022 OTA Driver of the Year Award winner. 

  • Timothy Burnett, nominated by the Trucking Association of New York, has 35 years of driving experience – the past 30 with Walmart Transportation Inc. With 3.9 million accident-free miles, Burnett was New York's Driver of the Year in 2016 and 2022.  

  • Jerry Joyner, nominated by the Kansas Motor Carriers Association, has 50 years of experience, the last 33 with Walmart Transportation Inc. He has driven more than 6 million accident-free miles in his career and won the 2008 Leo Wozniak Award as well as the 2010 and 2022 KMCA Driver of the Year awards. 

The Safety Management Council Awards and Recognition Committee judges each video submission and selects a winner. The winner will be announced in April at ATA's Safety, Security, and Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition in Phoenix, Arizona. 

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