National Truck Driving Championships
Earlier this summer, Anchorage-based FedEx Express drivers Doug Rickel and Ron Bernier were winners in your State Truck Driving Championship. They are now headed to the National Truck Driving Championships (the “Super Bowl of Safety”) in Orlando August 9-13.
OVERVIEW OF NTDC
Drivers compete for national titles in each of nine vehicle classes and for the overall “National Grand Champion” title. The drivers accumulate points by demonstrating their driving skills and knowledge of the industry through a written exam, pre-trip vehicle inspection and difficult driving course that tests their ability to judge distances, maneuver tight spaces, reverse, park, and position their vehicle exactly over scales, before barriers and around curves.
STATE TDC COMPETITION OVERVIEW
To compete at the Nationals, a driver must be the first-place finisher in his/her respective class at a state competition. To be eligible to enter the state competition, drivers must have been accident-free for the entire year before the competition.
DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPETITION ELEMENTS
All the competitors must take a multiple choice written exam that tests their general knowledge about trucking and their understanding of safety regulations, safe driving rules, first aid and firefighting. All questions are taken from the American Trucking Associations’ Facts for Drivers publication.
The pre-trip inspection is based on the procedure that drivers conduct on their vehicles before they hit the road every day. Each of the national competitors has a set amount of time to find multiple defects and safety hazards that are planted on the vehicle. These defects can range from low tire pressure to a loose electrical cord, to the fifth wheel being unlatched, to a leak in the wheel seal.
Finally, the ultimate skills test for the competitors is a difficult field course that simulates driving conditions in terms of braking, backing and maneuvering through tight spots. Every driver must navigate through six different problems on this challenging obstacle course. For example, drivers may have to negotiate a serpentine without stopping, going out of bounds, or striking any of the barriers. Most times the difference between scoring 50 points on a problem versus zero is less than 18 inches.