DALE Williams is one of the top 19 truck drivers in America. He is an ambassador. And he believes being one of America’s Road Team captains sets him up to dispel some stereotypes.
“A lot of times truck drivers are characterized as overweight, non-caring, and uncompassionate,” said Williams, who drives for Trimac Transportation South. “That’s far from the truth. They have a heart, they love what they’re doing, and they have a vision.
“Drivers want to feel like they have a purpose. They want to feel like they’re doing a good job. By recognizing them, you’re saying, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing.’ I believe we have the self-esteem to go out and do our best and be the best.”
Williams appeared at National Tank Truck Carriers’ 65th Annual Conference in Austin, Texas, along with another America’s Road Team captain—Todd Stine of Carbon Express Inc—to talk about the award and their love for driving.
Both of them were among 19 professional truck drivers named to the team by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in January. The premier group of professional truck drivers, all with millions of accident-free truck driving miles, will spend the next two years representing the trucking industry and delivering its highway safety message to the motoring public.
The 19 captains, with a collective 453 years of experience and over 30.1 million accident-free miles, were selected from a group of 32 finalists who competed before a panel of judges from the trucking industry and related fields. The competition included a review of trucking industry expertise and a demonstration of their communication skills, combined with their community service and lifetime safety records.
“This industry is a proud industry,” Williams said. “Pulling a tank is a tough, dedicated job. It takes a special driver with skills unique in driving, an ability to understand the stability of a product in the tank, and the passion to do it. Not everybody is designed to pull a tank.
“If I had to say something to a new driver, it would be: Make sure this is what you want to do and then rely on everything you know about what you’re doing to prevent anything from going wrong. The rewards are tremendous. What we do is a proud profession. I believe everybody is capable of doing this. Be the best you can be and you can do this.”
Stine said he decided to get into truck driving after graduating from college and spending five years as a draftsman.
“Yes, I’m a college-educated truck driver,” he said. “I drafted and designed and drew blueprints of CAD systems. After five years of doing that, I realized, ‘This is the most boring job ever.’ I wanted excitement. I wanted to travel. After having children and buying a house, I realized I needed more money too. That’s when I became a truck driver.”
He said tank-truck drivers get more respect than any other types of drivers.
“There’s an old saying I heard on the CB radio long before I became a tanker driver: ‘Once a tanker-yanker, always a tanker-yanker,’” he said. “That spiked my interest. After 10 years of flatbedding and doing dirty, sweaty work, I decided to try something different and gave tank-truck driving a chance.
“When you look at freight rates, liquid freight pays better than building materials or steel. Drivers make good money. In the years I was driving when I was pulling a flatbed hauling steel covered up, I always worried, ‘Is my load going to shift?’ When I was pulling a dry van, I worried, ‘Will it get damaged?’ When you haul liquid in a tank, you cannot damage the product.” ♦