Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships

NTDC Truckers Show They Have the Write Stuff

Exam Tests Competitors’ Knowledge of Rules, Regulations
Ron Round
Ron Round said the test was "tough." (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Difficult. Overwhelming. Tough. Hard. These were commonly heard descriptions from drivers about the written exam at this year’s “Super Bowl of Safety.”

The exam, based on guidelines outlined in American Trucking Associations’ “Facts for Drivers,” tests drivers on industry rules and regulations. It’s one of three disciplines at American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships.

For Maine’s Robert Cochran with FedEx Express, the exam proved challenging.

“I think I did OK. You put the time into the book and you study hard, and — you never know what the test is going to present. But I think I did OK on the test,” Cochran told Transport Topics on Aug. 16, soon after completing the exam. Of the nine vehicle classes featured at NTDC, Cochran is competing in the straight truck division.

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

“It was tough. You almost had to know the exact words on it — how it was written in the book. If you didn’t really apply yourself it was going to be tough,” said Ron Round, competing in the 3-axle division with Pottle’s Transportation.

“I had the audio [version] I downloaded on a thumb drive and listened to it in the truck,” this year’s grand champion from The Pine Tree State added. “And I studied the book and I found a thing online that had test questions, sample test questions. I put all three together and hopefully it worked out for me.”

Michael Hinkes from Alaska with Carlile Transportation Systems said, “Yeah, it was a tough test. It had some good variety of a range of questions from safety to regulation and all that stuff.”

Hinkes is competing in the 3-axle class.

“I did well; I did good,” said Josue Rivera from Kansas with Old Dominion Freight Line, also a 3-axle competitor. “Yeah, it was a little harder than I thought. It wasn’t too bad. Just a couple of questions I got confused, but it was all right.”

For emphasis, he added, “I read that book 100 times.”

NTDC written test

Drivers pore over the written test that many found challenging. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

NTDC participants will be called Aug. 17-18 to showcase their skills on a driving course. The elite drivers in the nine classes also are tasked with a pre-trip vehicle inspection.

NTDC, now in its 86th year, wraps up Aug. 19 with an awards banquet. Top performers in their vehicle classes are honored as national champions. The best-in-show will be named grand champion.

Last year’s grand champion, FedEx Express’ Roland Bolduc, wished fellow competitors luck during a keynote address prior to the exam. Bolduc, a member of Connecticut’s delegation, is competing in the sleeper berth truck class. He also took top honors in 2017.

“Everyone today is equal,” Bolduc said. “You got involved, now learn from it.”

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