August 9, 2018 6:45 PM, EDT

Editorial: Driven — and Driving — to Win

Drivers, start your engines! It’s time once again for the National Truck Driving Championships, the annual competition where the skills of the nation’s best and brightest behind the wheel are put to the test. There are numerous individual categories in which drivers can take home a victory, but there can be only one Grand Champion. Who will it be this year?

It’s not just the drivers that face a test each year; it’s also Transport Topics’ web server. NTDC routinely is one of the most popular events we cover, and it shows in our web traffic metrics. That’s why, this year, we’re expanding coverage. We’ll have a larger team on-site, delivering even more coverage and giving readers online and in print a deeper look at the goings-on. Not just the winners, but the sights and sounds of being there.

This popularity also is why we launched the Road to the NTDC this year; for consecutive weeks during the spring and summer months, we provided coverage of the state-level competitions from which the national competition draws its contestants.

Road to NTDC logo

The Road to the National Truck Driving Championships

Qualifiers | Map | Photos | Video

Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level advance to the national competition, with a grand champion crowned

What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills

When: Aug. 15-18

Where: Columbus, Ohio

But we didn’t do it just to attract more readers. We view our expanded coverage of NTDC as a way to shine a light on some of the most skilled drivers on the road. They’re deserving of the recognition, and some of those state-level winners might claim as much time in the spotlight at the national competition. This year, we tried to address that.

And the industry can’t do enough to show appreciation for its drivers, because it needs to attract more. We continue to see companies increasing pay, and orders for new trucks set a record last month. Dealers lots are going to be full, buyers are ready. Things are so busy, in fact, that manufacturers are starting to take orders for 2020 model-year trucks.

The order activity may be forward-looking, but the need is immediate. Trucking needs drivers now, and that need likely will sustain. Kudos to the carriers, schools and organizations that are conducting outreach and training the next generation.

Kudos, too, to the planners, staff and competitors at this year’s NTDC. Every driver there is a winner, and we salute them all.