Reporting Gordy Leach
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When the Minnesota Trucking Association picks its top driver every year, safety is a big consideration.
On Thursday night, Nathan Wick was honored as Minnesota’s 2012 Truck Driver of the Year. The UPS driver was chosen, because of his safety record, job performance, and community service.
He’s also driven more than 25,000 hours without an accident.
Wick says safety begins with inspecting whatever you drive, checking everything from tire pressure to lug nuts. Only then will he climb into the cab. After driving more than 1 million miles, he’s qualified to comment on some of the bad driving he has seen.
“We see everything from up here,” he said.
Wick says drivers using cell phones create a real problem.
“Distracted driving is the number one thing. It’s just…you’ve got to keep your eyes on the road, put any electronic device aside,” he said.
Another issue Wicks sees is that drivers often don’t leave enough room in front of large trucks and buses. Such vehicles, Wick says, need room because it takes them more time – and thus space – to stop.
“We’re looking at upwards of two football fields to come to a complete stop, so give us some space,” he said.
He added that drivers also need to be aware of blind spots.
“The biggest one is on the right-hand side,” Wick said.
Wick will spend some time in Washington D.C. this year, talking safety for the American Trucking Association. Needless to say, his boss is proud of him.
“Safety is number one in this company, we don’t even start a meeting unless we talk about safety; it’s always safety first here, as it always has been,” said Luke Litterio, a UPS manager.
As part of his community service, Wick works as an organizer with the Special Olympics. He also supports the Trucker Buddy program that connects professional drivers with elementary school classrooms across the country.