Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships

ATA Kicks Off Annual Safety Showcase

FMCSA’s Hutcheson Lauds Participating Truck Drivers at NTDC
ATA President Chris Spear
"You are the heartbeat of this nation,” ATA President Chris Spear told attendees at the kick-off to the National Truck Driving Championships and Step Van Championships in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 16. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — This year’s “Super Bowl of Safety,” the premier precision-driving contest for commercial drivers, is officially underway.

The 86th annual National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships boasts 421 elite drivers from around the country. Of that, 10 competitors are women, and more than a third are first-time participants, or rookies.

Competition at the summer classic kicked off with a comprehensive orientation for the participants in the nine vehicle truck classes, followed by opening remarks from two industry leaders.

American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear congratulated the women and men competing this year for accruing a yearlong pristine safety record. Demonstrating safe driving is a long-standing requisite for the tournament. Spear also emphasized competitors’ commitment to ensuring the nation’s goods are transported safely and efficiently along freight supply chains.

NTDC 2023

2023 National Truck Driving Championships

NTDC Qualifiers |  Photo Gallery | Map of State Champions

Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level who have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned

What: Contestants are judged on a written exam, pre-trip inspection and driving skills

When: Aug. 16-19

Where: Columbus, Ohio

During the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial drivers’ contributions were touted by state and federal officials, as well as industry leaders.

“You’re not only the glue of this economy. You’re not only the backbone of this economy. You are the heartbeat of this nation,” Spear told the attendees Aug. 16, before reminding them they are “some of the most hardworking, patriotic [group] I have ever had the privilege to work with.”

Robin Hutcheson, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also thanked the elite drivers for their commitment to safety and affinity for the craft. She shared encouragement expressed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who she said was impressed by their dedication to professionalism and camaraderie. FMCSA is tasked with regulating the trucking and motor coach industries.

FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson


“I am here because I care deeply about the driving profession and what you contribute to America,” she told the drivers during their orientation. “Thank you so much from FMCSA, from [U.S. Department of Transportation], the [Biden] administration.”

Shortly after the keynote remarks from ATA and FMCSA, drivers proceeded to inspect the arena of competition where they examined equipment and the course’s obstacles.

“I had a good time. The course — I think it’s pretty easy, but you never know. I might mess it up,” remarked Josue Rivera from Kansas with Old Dominion Freight Line, competing in the 3-axle class. Rivera, a rookie to the event, then exclaimed: “I feel like a champ!”

Josue Rivera


Soon after inspecting the arena, competitors proceeded with the contest’s first discipline consisting of a written exam of industry rules and regulations. The test is based on ATA’s “Facts for Drivers” guidebook.

Over the next two days, competitors are scheduled to maneuver their respective vehicles (i.e., straight truck, 3-axle, 4-axle, 5-axle, twins, flatbed, tanker, sleeper and step van) through an intricate driving course, as well as participate in a pre-trip vehicle inspection.

NTDC concludes its festivities Aug. 19 with an awards gala.

FedEx Freight’s Rodney Myers, the chairman of the event’s organizing committee, highlighted the contributions of volunteers who help run the tournament: “It takes an army to run this thing. There’s over 150 volunteers. If you get an opportunity this week, say ‘thanks’ to them.”

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