Edward Heard, professional driver at Highway Transport, is one of eight finalists for National Tank Truck Carriers’ (NTTC) Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year. The program recognizes tank truck drivers who have an incredible driving record, a demonstrated commitment to safety, and a history of community service. During NTTC’s Annual Conference, finalists are presented for this prestigious award and one Grand Champion is named who will represent the industry and NTTC throughout the year. Heard recently returned from Washington, D.C., where he participated in a round of events and interviews as part of the NTTC’s selection process.
In less than 24 hours last month in Washington, finalists for NTTC’s William A. Usher, Sr. Trophy, including Highway Transport’s Edward “Ed” Heard, participated in multiple events and interviews as part of the award process. “Of course, there were a lot of unknowns, even with a detailed itinerary, but once I got there and started meeting people and seeing how organized the entire operation was, I felt better and that only improved over the course of the two days,” Heard said.
One evening was dedicated to a welcome dinner, preceded by a session at NTTC’s office, where the finalists heard from Ryan Streblow, NTTC president and CEO, as well as the organization’s safety and security council national chair, Lance Hagler, and the 2022-23 Grand Champion award winner, Kenneth Tolliver, from G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation.
The next morning’s events included individual interviews, presentations, and video shoots for each of the finalists. “I did my homework,” Heard said. “I felt very prepared. While practicing, I kept going over my responses as well as considering what other questions I could be asked and how I’d respond. That preparation paid off and I didn’t leave with any regrets.”
No shortcuts in safety
A board of five people conducted the interviews and listened to the presentations, which required insight into the drivers’ focus on safety. “I started by sharing that, No. 1, safety has to be a core value,” Heard relayed. “It must be a priority or else you’re setting up for a liability such as an injury or accident. Safety is a deliberate act—done on purpose—so we all can get home and keep the community safe. There are no shortcuts.
“There’s no other job I’d rather do, and every day, I take seriously the responsibility of pulling potentially dangerous products up and down the highway. I’m passionate about mentoring, and that’s something I can keep doing to help bring about positive change in the industry, including making an emphasis on safety to those I mentor and train.”
Heard was most surprised by all that happens behind the scenes each day in his industry. “This experience definitely opened my eyes to what is happening,” he confessed. “I go to work every day and am in the routine of training and driving—doing my job—and now I’ve seen another side and I have a new perspective on what NTTC and their partners are doing to advocate on our behalf so that we can have a better life.
“I walked away with a great appreciation for these folks, and they’re all great, approachable people. It makes me want to work harder and do more for this industry.”
Next up: Vegas
The next stop on Heard’s award journey will be the NTTC Annual Conference May 4-7 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On the morning of May 6, the finalists will be presented, and a Grand Champion will be named. “It’s such an honor to be included in this group of impressive and uncommon individuals, and I’m thankful for this experience,” Heard concluded.