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April 16, 2018 12:45 PM, EDT
Capitol Agenda for the Week of April 16: Road to NTDC
2017 NTDC for Capitol Agenda, April 16, 2018 A driver gets ready to take the course during the 2017 National Truck Driving Championships in Orlando, Fla. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

The journey to crown this year’s top truck driver is officially underway.

Elite truckers passionate about safety are focusing their talents at their state truck driving championships for a chance to qualify for the National Truck Driving Championships.

This past weekend, professional drivers competed in South Carolina. Ronnie Luckadoo of UPS Freight earned grand champion honors after winning the 3-axle class. Arizona held its championships, too, and the April lineup includes qualifiers in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Nevada. The first qualifier was held in Louisiana on March 23-24. Eric Courville, a FedEx Freight driver, took home the grand champion prize in the Pelican State.

Truckers looking to qualify for a spot at nationals must win their class at the states. Classes include straight truck, 3-axle tractor-semitrailer, 4-axle tractor-semitrailer, 5-axle tractor-semitrailer/tank, 5-axle tractor-semitrailer/van, 5-axle tractor-semitrailer/flatbed, 5-axle tractor/sleeper cab semitrailer/van and twin trailers.

Truck drivers also must work with a motor carrier fleet for at least a year, as well as remain accident-free the year prior to the championships.

Last year’s national grand champion, Roland Bolduc, a FedEx Express driver for more than two decades, explained the competition’s mystique.

“For a lot of drivers out there, what you really need to do is just get involved. Put your foot in the door. Get involved. Once you get involved you’ll see the opportunities to travel to the nationals and be part of the NTDC family; part of the Truck Driving Championships. It’s an amazing family; a family that I will always love and enjoy to be around and that’s what we work hard to do, is to get to the next National Truck Driving Championships,” Bolduc said during an interview with Transport Topics two months after his victory. “So, that stepping stone is your state truck driving championships and you gotta get involved. You just gotta walk through the door.”

This year’s nationals will be held in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 15-18.

WEEK AHEAD (all times EDT):

April 16, 7 p.m.: The Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital hosts former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

April 17, 8:30 a.m.: The National Press Club hosts a news conference with California Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

April 17, 10 a.m.: The House Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee meets on “Oversight of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015.”

April 17, 11:30 a.m.: The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion titled, “How Can Governments Work with the Private Sector around Infrastructure?”

April 18, 11 a.m.: Congress schedules a memorial service for the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

April 19, 5:30 p.m.: Politico holds a panel discussion titled, “The New Age of Innovation: Safety in the Driverless Age.”

April 20, 5 p.m.: The Institute of World Politics hosts a lecture titled, “Edward Snowden, The Man Who Conned the World.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

THE ECONOMIST: The strongest freight market in the past 50 years won’t last much beyond this year, a prominent industry economist said.

CHAO: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will continue to meet with and host briefings geared toward livestock haulers who are discontent with the electronic logging device rule, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. 

HYPERLOOP: The high-speed Hyperloop transit system entrepreneur Elon Musk proposes to build on the East Coast has the potential to withstand the impact severe weather may have on older infrastructure.

BUZZ:

Significant momentum is building for attaching a trucking-centric meal-and-rest break provision to the federal aviation reauthorization measure, sources tell Transport Topics.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Jane Jacobs and an “I told you so.”

FAVORITE QUOTE:

I used to live in New York. I mean my family is in New York. So I know the transportation system up there very well.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a House transportation funding subcommittee hearing April 12

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

FAVORITE VIDEO:

Other people’s money.

FAVORITE TWEET:

Straight Outta Altoona.

Thanks for reading Capitol Agenda. We publish when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.