MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gary Plant, a professional truck driver with Walmart Transportation, has been honored as trucking’ National Driver of the Year by the American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council.
The recognition came as the council honored outstanding trucking leaders at its annual conference.
“Safety is a reward in and of itself, but at ATA we also believe in recognizing the people and organizations who pursue excellence in their approaches to safety,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Safety is what defines our industry, and one must look no further than a four- million-mile accident-free driver or a company that dedicates substantial resources to safety investments, to see that safety is what guides trucking’s dedicated professionals every day.”
ATA’s National Driver of the Year Award annually recognizes one exceptional driver for significant and career-long professional achievements, for holding a stellar safety record, and for maintaining dedication to keeping the roads safe.
The driver is selected from a pool of exceptional state drivers of the year submitted by ATA’s affiliated state trucking associations.
Each candidates' qualifications are first reviewed by a group of industry safety professional judges. These judges then narrow the field of nominees to a group of finalists who are judged by an impartial panel of Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and law enforcement representatives, who select the award winner.
Plant, who was awarded the 2017 National Driver of the Year trophy on stage in Orlando, Florida, at ATA’s Management Conference and Exhibition in late October, is in the middle of his 41st year as a professional truck driver. He has driven 4.4 million safe miles throughout his career, equivalent to 176 trips around the world.
Incredibly, Plant has not been involved in a single preventable or non-preventable accident and has never been cited for a moving or traffic violation of any sort.
Plant is a 27-year veteran of Walmart Transportation and has worked at a total of four trucking companies. He typically operates a five-axle sleeper berth tractor-trailer and drives an average of 125,000 miles per year.
As a prolific truck driving championship competitor at both the state and national levels, Plant has won 11 state titles and six top 10 finishes at nationals, including two second-place trophies at the National Truck Driving Championships.
The Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition also set the stage for the presentation of several other key trucking safety and security awards.
The Arkansas Trucking Associations was honored with the ATA State Excellence in Safety Award, given annually to a state trucking association making innovative and impactful progress on promoting safety to their members.
Arkansas Trucking Association hosted eight safety council meetings, five education sessions, operates an Arkansas Road Team and Share the Road program, and hosted a state truck driving championship for 156 drivers representing 18 companies.
The ATA President’s Award was given to three companies who exhibited safety excellence in their daily operations:
Security, an increasingly critical topic in the trucking industry, was also featured in several of the awards given out in Memphis. Old Dominion Freight Line was presented the Excellence in Security Award and ABF Freight System Inc. was honored with the Excellence in Claims and Loss Prevention Award.