TA announces Don Talley, Dan Porter as 2021 Citizen Driver Award honorees

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Don Talley and Dan Porter
Drivers Don Talley, left, and Dan Porter have been named 2021 Citizen Drivers of the Year by TravelCenters of America. The two honorees are active in nonprofit organizations and have a commitment to safe driving and service. (Courtesy: TravelCenters of America)

WESTLAKE, Ohio — Truckers Don Talley of Muncie, Indiana, and Dan Porter of Acton, Ontario, Canada, have been selected by TravelCenters of America (TA) as its eighth annual Citizen Driver Award honorees. Chosen from a pool of nearly 100 nominations, the two drivers have a combined 73 years of freight-hauling experience, with nearly six million accident free miles. TA President Barry Richards announced the two honorees live on the Dave Nemo Radio Show on Sirius XM 146- Road Dog Trucking Radio on April 19.

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“Each year, our Citizen Driver Program honors those who go above and beyond in their service to customers and the community. Their commitment to delivering our nation’s goods, no matter the weather conditions or circumstances, is what keeps our country moving,” Richards said. “Last year, Americans were reminded of the essential role professional drivers play in their everyday lives, as the industry quickly rose to meet unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue to share these drivers’ stories and demonstrate why they deserve respect and recognition year-round.”

As a Citizen Driver Award recipient, drivers may choose a TA, Petro or TA Express location to be dedicated in their honor. To celebrate the driver’s career and contributions, a bronze historical marker with the driver’s image and story is installed on front of the building, and a dedication ceremony is held with 30 of their closest family and friends. By dedicating a location in their name and displaying their accomplishments at the site, TA allows the drivers’ stories to be shared with by all travelers that pass through.

Don Talley

Don Talley is a U.S. Army veteran who now drives for Carter Express. He has dedicated the last 21 years to professional driving, logging 1.95 million accident-free miles.

He first learned to drive a big rig while serving in Saudi Arabia. Talley was active in both the Vietnam War and the Gulf War in the 20 years he served in the military. He has earned many decorations for his integrity and unwavering commitment to service, including the Soldier’s Medal, the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of heroism unrelated to combat. Talley received Army achievement medals for exemplary leadership and two certificates of achievement for his safety mentality and contributions to Operations Desert Storm. Talley was also issued a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for sustaining injuries while saving lives in a combat setting, after an Army truck full of ammunition caught fire and he rescued the soldiers trapped inside.

After retiring from the military, Talley put his leadership skills and dedication to work, fostering safety to the trucking industry. He received a Master Truck Driver Award from the Indiana Motor Truck Association and named the association’s Driver of the Month for May 2018. Carter Express has also been recognized for his safety achievements, including being named Carter Express Driver of the Month for June 2018 and receiving Carter’s 1 Million Mile Safe Driver Award.

Last year, Talley formed the Road Dog Crew to promote funding and representation of the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund and Truckers Against Trafficking. Talley also volunteers with Feed My Sheep, a nonprofit with a mission to ensure all families in the area have a meal to share at Thanksgiving. He is an active member of his church and volunteers at its food pantry with his wife.

Talley has chosen the Petro in Gaston, Indiana, to be dedicated in his name. The St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund will receive his $2,500 donation.

Dan Porter

Dan Porter, also known as Dusty, is a professional driver for Werner Enterprises. His 52-year career includes 3.8 million miles of accident-free driving. Throughout his several decades on the road, Porter’s approach to driving has stayed constant: Treat people with respect, help when you can, and always have a positive attitude. His empathic nature, calm demeanor and unbiased support allows him to connect with other drivers emotionally, and he even once saved someone from taking their own life.

While driving a truck is Porter’s full-time job, taking pictures is his full-time passion. He has spent countless hours snapping shots for trucking nonprofits and donating the photos to the organizations.

Porter has served on the Driver Advisory Committee and regularly attended safety meetings during his time driving for Hyndman Transport. He is well-known at the Mid-American Trucking Show (MATS) and the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) for photographing different non-profit groups like Women In Trucking (WIT), Trucker Buddy International, Truckers United for Charities, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT).

Porter has volunteered his services to the Special Olympics Truck Convoy, Convoy for a Cure, the Owner Operator Independent Associations (OOIDA), and Trucking for a Cure. In addition to his photography skills, Porter managed the Trucker Buddy Rodeo Challenge at GATS, a bull riding event whose proceeds went to Trucker Buddy International. He is a lifetime member of the International Freelance Photographer Organization, OOIDA and WIT.

Porter has chosen the Petro in Glendale, Kentucky, to be dedicated in his name and is going to split his $2,500 donation between St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund and Truckers United for Charities.

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