August 15, 2016 4:00 AM, EDT

Editorial: One Champion, But Many Winners

This editorial appears in the August 15 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

By the time you read this, a new grand champion will have been crowned at the National Truck Driving Championships in Indianapolis.

Though the competition was just getting underway as this edition of Transport Topics went to press, we do know the 2016 winner will have a photo on the front page of next week’s edition and get to share his or her unique story.

While there is one grand champion, there are also the class winners. In reality, everyone walks away with something from the “Super Bowl of Safety.”

Year after year, we hear from drivers just how meaningful this annual event is for them, many of whom spend hours of their free time training to qualify through state competitions and to practice their skills prior to the national competition.

It takes enormous dedication to get back behind the wheel when not on the road to prepare for the National Truck Driving Championships. Certainly, no one could be faulted for deciding to do anything but be in a truck while away from work. But these competitors are no ordinary individuals.

We admire how quickly a heated competition turns into displays of good sportsmanship. And this is much more than congratulating someone for a job well done. Often we are told the most valuable part of this competition is the exchange of driving and training tips among the people who are competing against each other.

These tips are then not only used by the individual, but brought back to the home terminal and beyond. The result: improved highway safety for every single driver on the road.

“I find great comfort and satisfaction in knowing that these impressive individuals are out on the highway — safely sharing the road with my friends and family — delivering all of the goods that we depend on each day. I cannot say enough about the professionalism one will encounter at the NTDC,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said.

We also want to recognize the participants of the 2016 North American Inspectors Championship. They, too, put in extra time to improve in their chosen profession. Knowing the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance uses the competition to try to improve real-world inspections makes the event that much more worthwhile.