During Black History Month, Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) is recognizing the achievements of professional truck drivers for their modern-day successes in the trucking industry.
Derrick Whittle, a driver for Cargo Transporters Inc., is recognized as one of this year’s Black History Month Leaders who are helping to move America forward every day.
During his 41-plus years as a professional truck driver, Whittle has logged more than 3.8 million accident-free miles. He will celebrate 29 years with Cargo Transporters this July.
Before entering the trucking industry, Whittle served in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he discovered a fascination with large machinery, from ships to aircraft. “I just had an affinity for large vessels,” he said.
While in the Coast Guard, Whittle travelled home via Greyhound bus during leave. He loved buses, and upon his discharge from the Coast Guard, he wanted to become a bus driver. Unfortunately, the minimum age to be a bus driver was 25 — and Whittle was only 21. Whittle’s older brother suggested becoming a truck driver and connected him with a driving school instructor. Whittle stepped up to the challenge, finishing in the top 10 of the class.
Whittle says being a professional truck driver is the perfect career for him.
“What I do works well for me. It is hard for me to sit still for very long, so driving a truck I get to see the country; I am basically a paid tourist!” he said, adding that one of the most inspiring aspects of being a truck driver is having the chance to meet people across the country.
In addition to driving a big rig, Whittle is an ordained minister. Throughout his career, he said, he has met a lot of people who are searching, and he enjoys helping others get back on track.
“A person’s self being is more important to me. In the shape of the world today, this is what I need to do,” he explained. “I see the world differently and enjoy helping others find their purpose of living. When I see them smile, it is the best reward.”
Recently, an Air Force veteran stopped to ask Whittle about his truck, which features a patriotic wrap, and Whittle gave him a tour, right there in the snow and rain. “My truck is such a magnet,” Whittle reflected. There is a connection there for him, and I love to bring all of that together.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Derrick said finds himself even more in demand as people struggle to find their purpose in an uncertain world. His advice?
“There is a lot of unknown and the doctors are trying their best to explain and understand this. It is just a season and it will eventually pass,” he stated. “Be patient and be careful. We will get through this.”