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January 11, 2017 1:20 PM, EST

ATA Announces 20 Road Team Captains for 2017-2018

John Sommers II for Transport Topics
John Sommers II for Transport Topics; click photo for larger image

American Trucking Associations announced the selection of 20 professional drivers to the 2017-2018 America’s Road Team on Jan. 10.

The Road Team captains will serve as trucking industry ambassadors, touring North America in ATA’s Interstate One Image Truck, an American flag-emblazoned Volvo VNL 780 with a state-of-the-art truck driving simulator.

FedEx Freight placed three captains on the team, while Wal-Mart Transportation and ABF Freight had two each.

The captains, who will remain full-time truck drivers with their ATA-member companies, will speak about the life of an American truck driver, the important role trucking plays in the delivery of critical goods and the safety-first mentality held by all professional truck drivers.  

“There are 3.5 million safe, professional truck drivers on our nation’s roads, and every single one of them has a valuable story to tell. ATA is proud to select these respected drivers as the newest America’s Road Team captains, and we are thankful that they will continue to tell their important stories throughout the country,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “Their companies, friends and families should all be incredibly proud of these drivers for dedicating themselves to spreading a positive message about trucking.”

America’s Road Team was established in 1986 as an outreach initiative designed to introduce the motoring public, lawmakers and the media to the trucking industry.   

“For many drivers, being named to America’s Road Team is the pinnacle of their careers,” ATA Chief Operating Officer Elisabeth Barna said. “By compiling millions of accident-free miles, serving hundreds of hours in their communities and articulating the passion they have for their careers as truck drivers, these new captains are excellent examples of the professionalism that’s become a hallmark of our industry.” 

The 20 were selected from a group of 33 finalists who collectively had accumulated 77.6 million safe-driving miles and 893 years as professional truck drivers. The final round of the selection process for America’s Road Team was held Jan. 8-10 in Arlington, Va. A panel of industry officials and trucking news media judged the finalists on their knowledge of the trucking industry, dedication to safety, ability to communicate the industry’s messages and overall safe driving record.

Below is the list of 2017-2018 America’s Road Team captains, including their response to a question put to them by TT Senior Features Writer Dan Bearth, "Why did you become a truck driver?":

  • Steve Brand, FedEx Freight, Union, Ohio: “My Dad was a truck driver.”
  • Jon Brockway, Wal-Mart Transportation, Westbrook, Maine: “I was 4 years old and got to sit in a dump truck.”
  • John Gaddy, Carbon Express Inc., Asbury, New Jersey: “I wanted to travel and make money.”
  • W. Scott Harrison, K Limited Carrier, Cincinnati, Ohio: “I drove a truck to pay for pilot training.”
  • Rhonda Hartman, Old Dominion Freight Line, Des Moines, Iowa: "Necessity."
  • Gary Helms, Covenant Transport, Cleveland, Tennessee: “I was in construction and it took a toll on my knees and back.”
  • Bill Krouse, YRC Freight, Shakopee, Minnesota: "I’m third generation."
  • David Livingston, TCW, Springfield, Georgia: “Left the Army and needed to duplicate that income.”
  • Charles Lobsiger, Wal-Mart Transportation, Alachua, Florida: “Fascinated by trucks since I was 4 years old. Garbage trucks.”
  • Timothy Melody, ABF Freight System, Payette, Idaho: “My uncle drove a truck and my dad traveled a lot. In the Army I drove trucks.”
  • James Moore, Saia LTL Freight, Magnolia, Texas: “Got into a rut and was looking for a career change.”
  • Chris Outen, FedEx Freight, Vancouver, Washington: “Looking to support my new wife.”
  • Charlton Paul Jr., UPS Freight, Chester, New York: “I saw such a demand for CDL drivers.”
  • Jeffrey Payne, Reddaway, Cedar City, Utah: “My parents had a trucking company. I was born into the industry.”
  • Stephen Richardson, Big G Express, Decatur, Alabama: “My father delivered groceries.”
  • Micheal Sheeds, Werner Enterprises, Bandera, Texas: “My father’s dream.”
  • Steven Smalley, ABF Freight System, Mesa, Arizona: “My Dad was in management and after a visit to the National Truck Driving Championships I caught the bug.”
  • Gary Smith, Garner Trucking, Gomer, Ohio: “Necessity.”
  • Earl Taylor, Penske Logistics, Orlando, Florida: “I love anything automotive.”
  • Tim Taylor, FedEx Freight, Valdosta, Georgia: “I never had a job without a steering wheel. It’s a part of me.”