Transport America Student Driving Instructor Wins Big at 2018 Minnesota Truck Driving Championships
Transport America Student Driver Instructor (SDI) Glenn Williams recently put his truck driving skills to the test and came out big, winning Rookie of the Year.
Despite a challenging course and experienced opponents, Glenn took to the Minnesota Trucking Association’s annual truck driving championship like a fish.
“It was so much fun,” Glenn laughs, “I can’t believe I never tried it before.”
What may be more funny is that Glenn is no rookie, but an experienced driver who has been driving for Transport America for the last 19 years and currently serves as a full-time SDI providing training to drivers just out of trucking school. But, because it was the first time he competed in the competition, he was considered a rookie.
To qualify for the Minnesota Trucking Association’s Truck Driving Championship, a driver needs to be endorsed by their trucking company, and have driven the past 12 months without any incidents, such as traffic violations or accidents. Transport America is among more than a dozen carriers that compete each year in the annual competition. The winners of the individual truck driving categories are eligible to compete against more than 430 other truck drivers from all over the United States in the ATA’s National Truck Driving Championships & National Step Van Driving Championships scheduled to take place Aug. 15 – 18, 2018 at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Certainly Glenn competed head-to-head with other drivers in terms of his knowledge of trucking, his ability to handle his truck, and his in-depth understanding of safety violations. But what earned him Rookie of the Year honors was his approach to his work – that same approach that Glenn has used to drive more than 2.5 million miles without a traffic violation or accident.
He’s dedicated to safety and to his family.
“I’ve been married for 24 years, with three kids and seven grandchildren,” Glenn says. “I drive as well as I do because, at the end of the day, I just want to get back to them. To me, that’s all that matters in life.”
“Instead of saying what drivers should or should not do,” Glenn adds, “I shared my personal approach to driving – I talked about what I want and expect for myself as a driver.”
After it was announced that Glenn was named Rookie of the Year for the competition, one of the judges came up to him and said, “You won it because you personalized your driving to yourself and your family.”
“When I’m driving and I see a four-wheeler passing me, I imagine that it’s my wife or my daughter behind the wheel, or that my grandkids buckled up in that car,” Glenn says. “That’s my secret to driving safely.”
Competing drivers must navigate several stages in the competition, including a driving course, a written test and, for the first-time competitors, such as Glenn, an interview. The drivers also are judged on their knowledge of safety standards and ability to drive and park with precision.
Despite the challenges of the competition, Glenn reports that the atmosphere of the event is incredibly positive and nearly indescribable.
“In real life, sometimes drivers don’t always help each other out,” Glenn says. “But here in the competition, drivers from different companies will cheer you on and shake your hand.”
Glenn offers several pieces of wisdom to share after more than 20 years of experience driving trucks safely. He hopes to pass on what he knows about the trucking industry as both a driver and an instructor, and to continue making an impact on younger drivers.
First, Glenn encourages new drivers to stay positive.
“I start every day with a smile,” he adds. “I try to teach my students that a bad mood just makes a stressful situation all that much worse.”
And second, Glenn advises new drivers to be willing to continuously learn and be committed to the job.
“We’re training you to succeed, not to fail,” Glenn explains. “If you’re open to hearing what we have to say, you’ll be a much better driver because of it.”
“When I’m training new drivers, I won’t release them from training until I trust them to drive in the lane next to my daughter,” he adds. “That’s a high bar, so be patient with the process and be committed to the job.”
With years of experience already under his belt, Glenn looks forward to training the newest generation of truckers for Transport America and passing on his focus on safety. He’s also looking forward to competing in the championship and driving his next million miles safely.