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Five Good Things: TCA's drivers of the year and International Women's Day 2023

March 10, 2023
This week in good trucking news: TCA announced its Highway Angel of the Year and Professional Drivers of the Year at its convention this week. Plus, one major OEM focuses on gender equity.

Drivers are often honored in Five Good Things, and this week's edition showcases some of the year's best, whether they're saving the lives of others or overcoming struggles of their own to deliver excellency. And trucking companies respect their talent, which is why they spend so much time cultivating it, whether by supporting education or gender equity.

Please pass along good news for our weekly Five Good Things blog by email or through our LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter accounts.

TCA names Highway Angel of the Year and Professional Drivers of the Year

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has named CFI driver Zach Yeakley its 2022 Highway Angel of the Year. Since 1997, TCA's Highway Angel program has recognized professional truck drivers for the exemplary courtesy and courage they have shown others while on North America’s roadways.

See also: More TCA 2023 coverage from Florida

Yeakley, from Batesville, Arkansas, was recognized during the March 6 general session at TCA’s Annual Convention, Truckload 2023: Orlando, held at the Gaylord Palms Resort, after being selected through a public vote.

On March 17, 2022, around 8 a.m., Yeakley was driving to West Memphis, Arkansas, and had just crossed the state border into Charleston, Missouri. He heard on his CB radio that there was an accident ahead, and then he noticed smoke and a man wearing a safety vest flagging down drivers.

The scene was a fire-filled, chain-reaction crash in dense fog that involved more than 45 vehicles. Yeakley immediately pulled over and jumped into action. “I went up there. They already had a couple people out,” he said. “Some people had some broken arms. One had a collapsed lung, a few broken ribs from the impact.”

Yeakley, a 15-year member of the Army National Guard, is trained as a combat lifesaver and could quickly assess the severity of injuries. He surveyed the situation so he could tell the paramedics when they arrived. Fire was spreading in the crashed vehicles, and tires were exploding all around them due to the fire.

“There was one guy trapped in his truck,” he said. “So me, a sheriff, a state trooper, and a FedEx driver, we did what we could to get him out.” Yeakley and the group were able to pry the dashboard off of another trapped crash victim and rescue him from his vehicle. The flames, he said, were surrounding them. Once the crash victim was rescued from his truck, Yeakley and a sheriff ran back to the scene to try to rescue the driver of a car trapped between a truck and a trailer, also surrounded by flames.

Yeakley helped rescue six crash victims that day. Police reported at least six fatalities from the fiery crash. Yeakley, who has been driving a truck for four years, said he wouldn’t hesitate to jump back into the fire again to rescue drivers, crediting his military training for preparing him for the experience.

CEO Lance Platt of EpicVue, the event’s sponsor, said, “Thank you for your selfless act of courage that morning,” after presenting Zach with a personalized crystal truck award.

Lloyd will receive a complimentary EpicVue satellite TV package that includes a 24-inch flatscreen TV, a DVR, and a one-year subscription to over 100 channels of DIRECTV programming, including premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime.

See also: EpicVue adds more in-cab entertainment and fleet engagement

Also at TCA's Truckload 2023: On March 7, during the convention’s closing banquet, TCA and sponsors Cummins and Love’s Travel Stops announced the five winners of the 2023 TCA Professional Drivers of the Year.

The truckers were recognized as the best of the best within the professional driver community. The TCA Professional Drivers of the Year are selected for compelling stories, a commitment to safety, demonstrable leadership on and off the road, and contributing significantly to the success of their companies, the trucking industry, and their communities. Each driver received $25,000 and standing ovations during the awards ceremony.

TCA’s 2023 Professional Drivers of the Year

The drivers’ stories range from a deaf driver overcoming his disability to another driver who tackled his cancer and treatment—not only, but twice—and came back to his trucking job. You can read and watch a video of each driver’s story on the Professional Drivers of the Year website.

Cummins celebrates International Women's Day

Cummins celebrated International Women’s Day, which is March 8, all this week. The company’s Cummins Powers Women program promotes gender equality, having now served more than 27 million women and girls around the world and has invested $23 million into the effort since its inception in 2018, according to Cummins.

"When we started this program five years ago, we could not have predicted the incredibly important ways Cummins has positively impacted the lives of girls and women around the world, from helping to reduce the scourge of child marriage and domestic violence to bringing curriculum into schools to teach boys about gender equality so they can later carry the torch of change in their communities," said Cummins’ VP of Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility Mary Chandler. "It’s remarkable.”

See also: Accelera: Cummins stamps a new name on its multi-pronged ZE business

The week started with an interactive discussion on March 6 to talk about work critical to achieving gender equality, both internal to the company and external to communities. The discussion was led by President and CEO Jennifer Rumsey, along with Karen Quintos, a Cummins board member and retired chief customer officer of Dell Technologies.

Next, Rise Up—one of the 10 global nonprofit partners of the Cummins Powers Women program—conducted a virtual panel on March 7 where its leaders shared stories. Rise up joins with local leaders to provide training, funding, and networks for meaningful and lasting change.

Cummins Powers Women partners with 10 global nonprofits in 18 countries to accelerate gender equality in educational attainment, economic empowerment, personal safety, and legal rights.

The commitment has more than 1,300 Cummins employees engaged as Cummins Powers Women ambassadors, and it has also gotten support from many of the company’s employee resource groups aligned along different dimensions of diversity.

While Cummins is pleased by the success of Cummins Powers Women and other efforts, the company stated there is much work to be done, and that it remains committed to its focus on creating a more prosperous and equitable world.

Knorr-Bremse's foundation funds over $600,000 in education initiatives

Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America (KBGCNA), a charitable arm of German commercial vehicle brake manufacturer Knorr-Bremse, in 2022 disbursed $616,060 in grant funding to advance the foundation’s mission to promote postsecondary education in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Founded in 2018, KBGCNA celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. KBGCNA centers its investments in the surrounding communities of Knorr-Bremse’s three largest North American companies: Avon, Ohio-based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems; Westminster, Maryland-based Knorr Brake Company; and Watertown, New York-based New York Air Brake.

“KBGCNA focuses its funding on longer-term projects aimed at helping young people at risk between the ages of 15 and 25 gain access to education—toward the goal of employment or entrepreneurship—and the opportunity to lead more independent lives,” said Maria Gutierrez, president of KBGCNA and Bendix senior director of environmental, social, and governance (ESG).

See also: Five Good Things: Carrier anniversaries and continued earthquake relief

KBGCNA's 2022 projects

  • $130,000 to help start a heavy equipment operations program for 11th and 12th grade students in Lewis County, New York, in conjunction with the Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) of New York State.
  • $127,760 to help the Next Generation in Trucking Association develop a standardized truck driving curriculum for high school students. NGT’s plan is to make the curriculum available at no cost to high schools nationwide that are starting truck driver training programs, with an emphasis on schools serving economically disadvantaged communities.
  •  $240,000 over three years ($80,000 per year) to help education nonprofit Boys Hope Girls Hope of Northeastern Ohio enrich its services for students pursuing postsecondary education.
  • $77,500 in support of the Westminster Autonomous Robotics Innovation Center (ARIC), in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC). ARIC will establish a permanent training and educational facility in Westminster serving K-12, as well as college students studying computer science.
  •  $75,000 to help support the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Science for Success internship program. The internship provides high school students interested in STEM the opportunity to participate in a paid internship at the museum.
  •  $65,000 in support of a technical nursing education program for high school students at Centro de Bachillerato Tecnológico Industrial y de Servicios No. 54 (CBTIS), a local vocational high school in Acuña, Mexico. Bendix has operated a manufacturing complex in Acuña for more than 30 years.
  •  $60,800 to help create and pilot a PlayMaker program—in collaboration with the afterschool program Safe-Hub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—that will provide career readiness for high school students. The pilot program will support a group of six local young adults in cultivating the professional skills, vision, and competencies to create a more equitable future for themselves and their communities.

Louisiana Motor Transport Association awards safety experts and exceptional drivers

The Louisiana Motor Transport Association (LMTA) Foundation has named Kenny Stocks of The R Group II as the 2023 Louisiana Safety Professional of the Year and Nelson Landry with South Louisiana Community College as the 2023 Louisiana Truck Driver of the Year. Stocks and  Landry were recognized during the LMTA Foundation’s Truck Safety Awards at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel on March 4, 2023. 

Kenny Stocks, the 2023 Louisiana Safety Professional of the Year, was nominated by the R Group II for his accomplishments as the company’s first-ever dedicated safety officer overseeing a fleet of over 75 vehicles. In his two years with the company, Stocks has prioritized education and compliance within the fleet and with drivers, strengthening the company’s safety culture and raising each employee’s safety profile. Stocks has also created a comprehensive onboarding and training program, reducing the number and severity of citations with the company's fleet while introducing new programs such as incentivizing safe drivers and implanting fleet evaluation metrics. Stocks has over 30 years of safety and compliance experience and 14 years of military service in the United States Marine Corps. A testament to Stocks’ impact, D&J Construction, a company under the R Group II, received the LMTA’s Most Improved award this year for significantly reducing the company’s reported incidents.
Nelson Landry has been named the 2023 Louisiana Truck Driver of the Year for his over 31 years in the industry and his contributions to the incoming workforce. Nominated by South Louisiana Community College (SLCC), where Landry serves as the lead examiner, he received his CDL in 1992. During his career, he has driven over 3 million miles, all without accidents. While driving professionally, Landry was known to go out of his way to help those in need, once entering Florida during a hurricane to deliver generators for radio stations and hospitals during a mandatory evacuation, riding out the storm in his truck and staying to help in the aftermath. Landry’s dedication to helping others has continued into his retirement for the past seven years. He has worked with SLCC turning his time and talents over to teaching the next generation of drivers. As the 2023 Louisiana Truck Driver of the Year, Landry will be featured on billboards across the state during the month of September for National Truck Driver Appreciation week.

See also: Five good things in trucking: A spotlight on driver appreciation

The LMTA Foundation also gave several fleets of various sizes at their Fleet Safety Awards, as well as congratulating its 2023 Louisiana Truck Driving Championships winners, and honoring Master Troopers David Bruce and Brett Davis each as a Louisiana State Police Trooper of the Year. More photos and the lists of winners are available on LMTA Foundation’s Facebook page.

Coyote Logistics names Bettaway Beverage Distributors its Carrier of the Year

Coyote Logistics has elected Bettaway Beverage Distributors as a 2022 Carrier of the Year.

Freight broker and third-party logistics provider Coyote works with hundreds of trucking service providers and thousands of shippers, arranging the movement of over 10,000 shipments every day. The annual carrier of the year program identifies the “best of the best,” evaluating trucking providers on key performance metrics, including equipment quality and availability, responsiveness, on-time pickup and delivery, consistent transit time, claims, safety, data quality, overall customer service, and support.

“We’re honored to receive this distinguished recognition from Coyote Logistics,” said John Vaccaro, president of Bettaway. “Their knowledge and collaboration underpin a great working relationship which keeps us in touch with their teams and enables Bettaway to effectively respond to customer needs with reliable, safe capacity and consistent on-time service.”

Vaccaro noted that this was Bettaway’s second carrier of the year award from Coyote, having also been so honored in 2020. “We don’t stand on our laurels,” he emphasized. “A relentless pursuit of supply chain excellence keeps us driven and focused.” 

About the Author

Scott Keith

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