LOUISVILLE, Ky. — TravelCenters of America (TA) has announced the 10th annual Citizen Driver Award honorees: Lamar Buckwalter of Leola, Pennsylvania, and William McNamee of Christopher, Illinois.
The travel center network created the award to recognize professional drivers “who demonstrate traits that bring a high level of respect to the truck driving profession, including good citizenship, safety, health and wellness, community involvement and leadership,” according to a news release.
The winners were announced in a formal ceremony on Friday, March 31, at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.
As part of the honor, Citizen Driver Award winners may select a TA, Petro Stopping Center or TA Express location to be dedicated in their name, allowing their story to be continuously displayed for all travelers that pass through.
In addition, TA makes a $2,500 donation to each winner’s organization of choice.
“This year’s winners dedicated their lives to both their careers and serving others,” Barry Richards, president of TA, said. “I am truly humbled for the opportunity to acknowledge the heroic actions of these great citizens and thank them for their service to our country.”
According to TA, the Citizen Driver Program is designed to spotlight some of the most extraordinary drivers today and to illustrate the examples of professionalism embedded in the truck driving profession.
More than 150 nominations for the Citizen Driver Award were received this year — from fleet owners and executives, professional drivers, trucking organization members and trucking industry suppliers.
The following members of the trucking industry served as this year’s judges:
- Donna Kennedy, Director, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund.
- Dave Nemo, On-Air Host, Road Dog Media/Dave Nemo Entertainment.
- Todd Spencer, President, Owner Operator Independent Driver Association.
- Ellen Voie, President & CEO of Women in Trucking.
TA launched the program in 2013 with the intention of recognizing the professional drivers who keep America moving. To date, 41 citizen drivers have been awarded the honor.
This year’s awardees
With more than than 32 years of driving, McNamee has dedicated his career to educating children and members of the public about trucking safety. He’s been an active member of Trucker Buddy International for 25 years and even served on the Board of Directors.
Having sat on the Carbon Express Safety Committee and received numerous safety awards and recognitions — including his selection by the 2019-20 America’s Road Team — McNamee has amassed almost 3.2 million accident-free miles. After serving in the Marines as a Nuclear Projectile Assemblyman and Military Police, McNamee said he is prepared for anything out on the road. He has even assisted with three accidents while driving his truck, administering life-saving medical aid to severely injured motorists.
McNamee became a finalist in the NTTC driver of the year program and took second place in the Illinois Truck Driving Championship. Plus, he’s a volunteer firefighter, licensed medical first responder and vessel examiner for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Aa a member of No Volunteer Dies Alone and Truckers Against Trafficking, he also volunteers at VA hospitals and advocates for positive change throughout the industry.
Buckwalter started going out on the road with his dad at the early age of 13 months old. Now, he has 26 years of professional driving and over 4 million accident-free miles under his belt. Starting out as a junior firefighter, Buckwalter also became a lieutenant, captain and deputy chief. He’s been an EMT for the last 21 years and a rescue technician for 28 years. Most recently, he obtained his water rescue technician and fire instructor qualifications.
During the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, Buckwalter joined the Pennsylvania Rescue Task Force Team and spent two weeks providing invaluable assistance at Ground Zero in New York. In 2003, Buckwalter was awarded the Trauma of the Year award for saving a woman who was trapped in her car after an accident. And in December 2022, he received a Clinical Save Commendation for saving a man who was in active cardiac arrest.
For the last five years, Buckwalter sponsored a local Make-A-Wish program for their Mother’s Day truck convoy. He was also part of the Road Pro Family of Brands ProDriver and recently became involved with Four Coles Kids, helping children with special needs.
As a sponsor and participant in a local school’s All Pro Dads program, he helped provide once-a-month breakfasts and fellowship time between kids and their fathers.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.