SALISBURY, Md. — Alvin Smith, a truck driver for Perdue Farms, is celebrating a milestone achievement of 4 million consecutive accident-free miles — the equivalent of approximately 160 trips around the Earth. Smith is Perdue’s first company driver to achieve this goal.
“It’s an honor driving trucks,” Smith said. “Before each trip, I check the map and plan the first stop. I check everything to make sure it is ready to go. I pray. I really believe in the power of prayer and also getting yourself prepared before each trip.”
Smith, 63, started driving for Perdue in 1982 and averages about 110,000 miles a year. He said his competitive nature motivates him to keep going. Many of his co-workers have asked if he will try for 5 million miles.
“I say, ‘Well, I don’t know’ — but I am pretty competitive, so I just might,” Smith said. “If you really work at it, you can do a million miles in about six years, so I probably could get to 5 million.”
Smith is part of Perdue’s team of 350 professional truck drivers. Other members of the team have previously achieved milestones: 170 Perdue drivers have reached 1 million accident-free miles; 52 have achieved 2 million safe miles; and seven have achieved 3 million accident-free miles. Smith stands alone as the first in Perdue’s 4-million-mile club.
“Our Perdue drivers are important ambassadors for our brands and company. Besides seeing our customers on a regular basis, drivers of our Perdue tractors and trailers drive 35 million miles a year feeding America,” said Richard Hernandez, vice president of transportation and warehousing for Perdue Farms.
“What impresses me most about Alvin is a combination of his professionalism and down-to-earth approach. Alvin brings instant credibility to every conversation and situation because everyone knows that he has seen or done it and that he knows exactly what it takes to be successful. Imagine someone with all of this experience who is also an excellent listener and mentor,” Hernandez continued. “Alvin is the best of the best. He didn’t wake up one day and decide to be successful. He put the time and energy in day after day, combined with a ‘can-do’ attitude for so many years.”
First Sgt. Christopher Knox of North Carolina Department of Public Safety and State Highway Patrol congratulated Smith on his milestone.
“This achievement is a testament to the many professional drivers of commercial motor vehicles we have on our roadways. This feat is not one to be taken lightly. There are lives at stake when operating a vehicle on the roadways and especially vehicles that are larger in size and weight,” Knox said. “His commitment to safety most undoubtedly was done so with intention — avoiding speeding, distractions and impairment have been conscious decisions each time he got behind the wheel. We are so proud of him for this impressive accomplishment, and congratulate him on a job well done.”
Smith started driving for the former Perdue plant in his hometown of Robersonville, North Carolina. For 15 years, he drove from Robersonville to Emporia, Virginia, and back, about 180 miles daily.
“I really enjoyed those local trips because I would make the same stops and go through the same towns. There was one bus stop that I would pass each day. The kids would get excited to see me and would wave. I feel like I got to know those kids. I got to see them grow up at that bus stop for 15 years,” Smith said.
Smith also knows the restaurant staff at his regular stops.
“You can have some great conversations at little general stores and small restaurants while you are driving a truck,” he said. “I have gotten to know so many people during my driving. It’s always fun when you get to make that stop and catch up with someone.”
After the Robersonville plant closed, Smith started driving out of the company’s plant in Lewiston, North Carolina. His routes have taken him all over the East Coast, and he believes he has seen every state and many towns east of the Mississippi.
At home, Smith stays busy with his wife, Cathy, at Grace Family Fellowship, their Pentecostal church. They have a son and a daughter, and two grandchildren. Smith enjoys working in his garden, going deer hunting and watching NASCAR.
Driving runs in Smith’s family — his father and two of his brothers have had careers as truck drivers. His father drove for more than 30 years.
“(Trucking is) a great career. I always tell people, ‘If you want to see the world, join the military. But if you want to see our country, become a trucker,’” Smith said. “It’s a job that I love, and I hope to continue doing it for as long as I can.”