Scott Keith | FleetOwner
A Wreaths Across America-sponsored truck at the Mid-America Trucking Show 2023 in Louisville.

Five Good Things: Awareness for veterans, distracted driving, women in transportation

April 28, 2023
This week in good trucking news: A way for state trucking associations to earn money, Distracted Driving Awareness month, and the achievement of one of FleetOwner's editors.

Drivers must stay alert, so it's good for trucking to alert the public on essential issues, whether that's distracted driving, women in transportation, or respect for fallen veterans, in this week's Five Good Things blog.

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

Wreaths Across America hosts "Virtual Convoy" giving back to state trucking associations

Wreaths Across America (WAA), a nonprofit whose goal is to deliver loads of sponsored veterans’ wreaths to veterans’ headstones at more than 3,700 cemeteries nationwide, is hosting its Virtual Convoy, partnering with 37 state trucking associations to raise awareness for the cause while also giving back to the associations.

Through WAA’s Group Sponsorship Program, each participating state association is registered as a $5 pay-back group supporting Arlington National Cemetery. Through the Virtual Convoy, each participating state trucking association will work to fill one “virtual” tractor-trailer full of sponsored veterans’ wreaths from their state for placement in December (approximately 5,000 wreaths). In return, $5 for each $17 sponsorship will be returned to state trucking associations to help in their efforts to fund local programs.

“The trucking industry plays such a vital part to our program,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “Thanks to their support we can deliver millions of sponsored veterans’ wreaths to every state for our volunteers to place on the headstones of our nation’s servicemembers. Through this effort, we hope to introduce the mission to new members of the industry and give them the opportunity to raise funds for their own initiatives that impact their communities locally, while helping us to honor and remember servicemembers from their states.” 

Since 2007 WAA has given back more than $20 million to charities and other groups through its $5 payback sponsorship group program.

Trucking observes Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, in which both private and government organizations have raised awareness about the safety issue, sharing tips for drivers and encouraging them to pledge to operate vehicles without distraction.

“Distracted driving is a significant threat to our industry’s goal of zero highway fatalities,” said American Trucking Associations Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath. “While we should avoid distractions all year long, Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a good time to recognize that we all need to do more to improve highway safety by putting our phones and other devices down, focusing on the task of driving.

“As a professional driver, I am amazed at the number of people I see on the roads driving with one hand—or sometimes no hands—on the wheel while they text, scroll, put makeup on, or even reading a book,” said driver Ron Round of Pottle’s Transportation. “Taking your eyes off the road for just three seconds can mean you miss nearly a football field of roadway. It's unsafe and drivers owe it to the motorists they share the road with to give driving their full attention.”

TCA Highway Angel saves woman on side of Georgia highway

The Truckload Carriers Association has named truck driver Don Cronic a Highway Angel for stopping to help an elderly woman who had a flat tire, had fallen, and was lying on the side of the highway. Cronic drives for Menke Trucking out of Thomasville, North Carolina.

On March 1, around 9 p.m., Cronic was driving on Highway 1 in Alma, Georgia, when he passed a car on the side of the road.

“I thought I saw someone lying on the ground,” he said. As he drove on, he said, “It kept bothering me—was that really someone on the road?”

Cronic turned around and returned to the car, finding an 82-year-old woman on the side of the road. She had a flat tire and had stepped out of her car in the rain, slipped, and fallen. Her son later said his mother had laid on the side of the road for 30 minutes trying to yell for help, in the dark, in the rain.

“I picked her up and put her in my truck because it was warm,” Cronic said. He also loaned her his phone so she could call her son, and then went out to her car and fixed her flat tire.

For his part, Cronic was happy to help, saying he was just glad she was not injured. Once he had her tire repaired, she drove home but asked him to follow her to make sure she would get home safely.

The woman’s son, JT Walker, wrote to Menke Trucking to inform them of the situation, stating, “Momma tried multiple times to pay him for his help and he refused. I pulled up, obviously frantic, and ran to check on momma thinking the worst only to find her in good spirits and unharmed. Before I could thank him or pay him for his help he was gone.”

Schneider executive wins Distinguished Woman in Logistics Award

The Women In Trucking Association (WIT), Truckstop, and Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) have selected Erin Van Zeeland, who is senior vice president and general manager of logistics and chief commercial officer for Schneider, as the winner of the ninth annual Distinguished Woman in Logistics Award, during theTIA 2023 Capital Ideas Conference & Exhibition

“We’re pleased to recognize Erin with the honor of Distinguished Woman in Logistics,” said Jennifer Hedrick, president and CEO of WIT. “Throughout her career at Schneider, as well as in her volunteer work, she has shown exceptional talent, leadership, and mentorship of others—three of the key characteristics of this award.”

Van Zeeland is accountable for the strategy, execution, and growth of Schneider’s fastest-growing division, which includes brokerage, supply chain, and distribution management, as well as the power-only service offerings. Additionally, Van Zeeland is the company’s chief commercial officer. In this capacity, she is responsible for overall organizational strategy including activities relating to marketing, sales, sales force effectiveness, product development, and services that drive business growth and expanded market share.

“All three finalists are incredible leaders in the transportation community,” says Anne Reinke, president and CEO of TIA. “Van Zeeland’s dedication to bettering the industry is a true inspiration. She and the other finalists are outstanding role models for other women interested in the trucking sector.”

Van Zeeland started her career at Schneider in 1993 and has subsequently held several leadership roles in a variety of positions with increasing responsibility for customer growth and business expansion throughout operations, tech, business transformation, human resources, global customer engagement, and logistics.

“Erin, Katerina, and Nanette truly embody the leadership qualities that the Distinguished Woman in Logistics recognition celebrates,” said Truckstop CEO Kendra Tucker. "We congratulate Erin on this prestigious honor as she continues her commitment to bettering the freight transportation industry and her community.”

FleetOwner editor-in-chief wins journalism award

FleetOwner Editor-In-Chief Cristina Commendatore won the Software & Information Industry Association's Jessie H. Neal Award for Best DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) Coverage for her 2022 Women in Transportation feature.
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