John “Randy” Fuller said he learned the rules of the road from his dad when he was just 10 years old driving a pickup truck on his family farm in Anderson, Ind.
Years later, those lessons his dad taught him when he was a kid have paid off in his job as a delivery driver for UPS Inc.
Fuller was recently inducted into the company’s Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers who have achieved 25 or more years of accident-free driving. The distinction puts him in the company of thousands of other UPS drivers who have earned the honor since the organization was formed nearly 90 years ago.
UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.
The company issued its first driver handbook in 1917 and began recognizing safe drivers in 1923. In 1928, UPS recognized its first five-year safe driver with a gold and platinum watch. UPS formally established its safe driving honor program in 1928.
The 51-year-old Kokomo, Ind. resident said safe driving was something pounded into him when he first started with UPS as a freshman in college in 1983.
Fuller said he was hired on as part-time holiday help at a time when he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. But when he started at UPS, he knew he had found a job loved. He ended up dropping out of college and working for the company full time. He eventually transferred to the Kokomo UPS center in 1988.
“It was something I really felt like I wanted to do, so I did,” Fuller said. “I liked driving and I liked vehicles.”
It’s a good thing Fuller likes driving, because he’s done a ton of it since he started with UPS. He said in the last 25 years, he’d driven around 780,000 miles. That’s equal to driving around the circumference of the Earth about 31 times — all without a scratch, ding of fender bender.
In that time, he’s delivered more than 700,000 packages to homes and business all around the area.
But not all his time with UPS has been accident free. Fuller said he nicked a gutter in a lumber yard once in 1991. Although it was a minor mishap that caused hardly any damage, the incident served as a wakeup call.
“Pay attention. Follow the methods,” he said. “I have a wife and kids, so I didn’t want to lose my job. We all know that’s something that’s on the line if you’re not careful.”
Fuller took the lesson to heart, and has driven accident free ever since.
How? He said he marks it up to his straightforward philosophy when it comes to driving.
“Regardless of my mood or how I feel that day, driving is totally separate from that,” Fuller said. “My goal is to get to point A from point B without an accident.”
He said that entails following the rules his dad taught him when he was a kid, and UPS reinforced during his training — rules such as looking left-right-left at every stop sign, scanning intersections even when you have a green light and leaving a car length between you and the driver in front of you.
Fuller said it all boils down to simply being aware of your surroundings both on the road and when making a delivery.
“When we pull up to stop for a delivery, we’re scanning, we’re looking for kids out in the yard,” he said. “If we saw four kids, we do a quick head count when we leave to make sure there are still four kids. There are a ton of things running through our minds. It’s a lot more than just grabbing a package and running to the door.”
Now, Fuller has become a kind of safe-driving guru around the Kokomo, Ind., UPS center.
Jay Talbert, one of the managers at the site, said drivers take Fuller seriously when gives them tips and advice about the job.
“It’s nice having a gentlemen like Randy available to mentor the younger drivers,” Talbert said. “As managers, we can tell them things, but when Randy tells them, it really sinks in. They know he’s out there every day and he’s been in their shoes.”
Fuller said he also feels responsible to make sure newer drivers are playing it safe on the road.
“If I see a younger driver do something wrong, I’ll pull them aside in a nonconfrontational way and try to help them,” he said. “I’m the oldest guy here, so I tell them, ‘Learn from my mistakes. Don’t do what I did.’”
Fuller said he plans to retire in three years, and it’s nice to know he’ll leave the company as a member of the Circle of Honor, which currently has 238 active drivers in Indiana with a combined 6,795 years of accident-free driving.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” he said. “I try not to think about it every day. I just want to go out and do it. But now, after some time, it’s really sunk in. I think, ‘Wow.’ No one can take that accomplishment away from me.”