King of the Road: Riding with Transport America’s Solo Driver of the Year
King of the Road: Ken Frederick Named Transport America’s Solo Driver of the Year
The Transport America Solo Driver-of-the-Year Award is given each year to an OTR solo truck driver who has distinguished him or herself in safety, punctuality, fuel efficiency and work ethic. This year, Ken Frederick, hailing from Marietta, Georgia, is the recipient of Transport America’s Solo Driver-of-the-Year Award.
With more than 15 years experience as a solo over-the-road driver, Frederick joined the Transport America team five years ago. It’s a decision he’s never regretted. “To me, this is a huge honor,” says Frederick. “It’s especially so because there are many great drivers with Transport America. I’m driving with the Dream Team of truck driving.”
Following His Dream
It’s an apt award for a person who decided to make a mid-career change to follow his childhood dream of being a truck driver. As a young boy, Frederick fell in love with trucking. He especially admired his Uncle, who drove OTR for a local trucking company.
“I loved the trucks he drove,” says Frederick. “I remember that he drove Peterbilt trucks.”
However, it would take him more than ten years after entering the workforce to re-discover his childhood dream again. “I didn’t start out as a truck driver because I never thought I could,” says Frederick. “I never thought I would get the hang of driving a big truck, even though I really wanted to.”
Instead, Frederick headed into the healthcare industry where he worked as a hospital pharmacy inventory specialist. Flying across the country from one hospital to the next, Frederick built a successful career conducting inventory of in-house hospital pharmacies.
Then one day, he decided it was time to move on. After ten years, Frederick grew tired of the constant plane travel, so he made the courageous decision to pursue his childhood dream. His first trucking company put him through trucking school where he learned the ropes.
“I was so surprised when I started to drive on my own,” Frederick says. “I really underestimated my abilities because I never thought I could actually do it.”
Since then, Frederick has traversed all 48 continental states. He estimates that he’s driven two million miles.
“I like driving through the Midwest and the mountains out toward California. Both have great scenery. I especially enjoy the mountains,” says Frederick.
Driving throughout the country has also given him a sense of purpose.
“Someone has got to move America,” Frederick says. “And I’m glad I’m one of those people. I’m also glad to be part of the Transport America team. I’ve found that everyone is always so kind; it’s almost like family.”
Frederick is usually on the road two weeks at a time, and when he’s out, he likes to keep a schedule.
“A perfect day for me is waking up around 4 or 5 a.m. so I can start early, be done early, and be parked by 3 or 4 p.m.” he says.
“Driving can be tough on your body if you don’t take care of yourself, so I carry my own food, try to eat more salads, and take a walk every day after I finish. To keep myself entertained on the road I listen to the radio—usually country.”
After 15 years, Frederick has streamlined his safety procedures, which earned him such high praise. “Here’s my number one rule: When I get tired or the weather is bad, I just park,” says Frederick. “Second, I do my best not to stress over things, especially my loads. Stress can dangerously affect driving,” he adds. Third, Frederick speaks about his success on the road as a team effort involving him, his fleet leader, and everyone at Transport America who supports him.
“My fleet leader, Tim Gardiner, used to be a driver and knows what it’s like,” says Frederick. “He’s great to work with and I get a lot of support and miles from him. If I have to pull over for any reason, he trusts me. I know that all of the people at Transport America who help me get to where I’m going have got my back.”
As you can imagine, when you’ve been driving OTR for as long as Frederick has, you’re going to see some unusual sights on the road. While Frederick hasn’t seen Big Foot, he shared this recent story:
“I was at a truck stop to fuel up and I had parked right next to another Transport America truck, which also was there to fuel up. The other driver comes out of the truck stop and heads to what he thinks is his truck and starts to clean all of the windows,” says Frederick, who starts to chuckle. “Well, I just had to let him finish washing the windows before I walked up to him and broke the bad news that he had just cleaned my truck’s windows!”
Even though Frederick has received one of the most prestigious awards in the company’s history, he still has a few goals for himself while traveling America’s highways. “I drive through the west, so I’ve always wanted to see Jackson Hole and try skiing down the mountains, ” he said. “I’d also like to buy a house in the coming years.”
Ken Frederick’s dedication to safety and his love for over-the-road travel earned him Transport America’s finest award. Congratulations, Ken. We’re proud to have you on our team!