Robert Gomez Jr. has been driving the UPS Inc. signature big, brown trucks around Southern Arizona since the mid-1980s.
He also has the distinction of being crash-free for 25 consecutive years behind the wheel, which was recently recognized with his induction into the company’s Circle of Honor. Gomez was one of several recent Tucson-area drivers to be so recognized in recent months.
A UPS representative estimated Gomez has put in about 670,000 miles during his career — and delivered more than 1 million packages.
So, how did he do it?
Gomez chalked it up to five basic rules he tries his best to follow. First, steer high, which means keep an eye out ahead, not just immediately in front of your vehicle. That helps you “find a safe path ahead of you,” Gomez said.
Second, maintain a sense of the big picture around your vehicle, and a related third tip is to keep your eyes moving, which in a hulking vehicle like Gomez’s means checking mirrors often.
“The mirrors are my eyes,” he said. “If you’re not watching your mirrors, you don’t know what’s beside you, behind you . … That keeps us alive in intersections.”
He also said it’s important to leave yourself an out from any driving situation, and to also make sure all other road users see you.
He credits his practiced alertness with helping him notice several young children wandering unaccompanied and worryingly close to major thoroughfares. On three occasions, he has helped them get back to the day-care centers and babysitters whose not-so-watchful eyes they had escaped, he said.