FedEx’s Charlie Salter scores big at Alabama TDC
Photo caption: Alabama TDC Grand Champion Charlie Salter (center) accepts his award from TDC Chairman Tony Smith (left) and ATA Chairman of the Board Gary Bond during the TDC Awards Banquet held Friday, May 26 in Pelham, Ala.
PELHAM, Ala. — Charlie Salter, a veteran truck driver for FedEx Freight’s terminal near Montgomery, won the Alabama Trucking Association’s State Truck Driving Championships’ Overall Champion award, Friday, May 26, at the Pelham Civic Complex near Birmingham, Ala. The Alabama TDC Grand Champion Trophy is sponsored by Southland International Trucks.
Salter and the nearly 100 other Alabama-based truck drivers from more than a dozen trucking firms, competed at the annual event, produced by the Association’s Safety & Maintenance Management Council (SMMC), a subgroup of the Association composed of fleet safety managers and fleet vehicle maintenance supervisors.
The competition showcases professional truck drivers’ skill and commitment to workplace and highway safety, but also serves as a qualifier for the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships scheduled for later this summer in Orlando, Fla.
Competitors are scored on a written exam covering driver safety and industry best practices; a pre-trip vehicle defect inspection; and vehicle obstacle course, where contestants navigate a truck and trailer through a series of obstacles. At the end of the competition, contestants’ cumulative scores are ranked, and winners from nine categories are announced at an awards dinner that evening. The three highest scorers from each class receive trophies and prizes, and special awards also given for the event’s top rookie and highest score for the vehicle defects inspection.
Other class winners with Salter were Robert Davis of FedEx Freight (Step Van); Ross Garner, FedEx Freight (Tanker); Mike Manzella, Walmart Transportation (Flatbed); William Downs, FedEx Freight (Twins); Steve Brannen, Walmart Transportation (4-axle); Daniel Thompson, FedEx Freight (3-axle); David Hawk, FedEx Freight (Straight); and Rodney Cosper, UPS Freight (Sleeper). Meanwhile, William Cousins of FedEx Ground posted the highest score in the Vehicle Defects portion of the contest, and Brandon Bunt of AAA Cooper Transportation earned the award for the highest scoring Rookie.
To qualify for the state competition, a driver must be employed by a member company of the Association and have had no accidents for the previous 12 months. Some competitors are handpicked by their supervisors for overall experience and work ethic, while others win company competitions.
While not a record, SMMC officials said this year’s event attracted more drivers than more recent years, but spectators and attendance numbers for the awards ceremony have grown tremendously. Officials said the event drew about 500 volunteers and contest officials and the awards dinner banquet drew nearly 300 — one of the largest crowds on record.
“Our event keeps getting better and more polished,” said ATA Director of Safety & Member Services Tim Frazier. “Our safety council and its TDC committee do an outstanding job planning and executing this event. We received incredible sponsorship support this year – more than we have in a long time. I think that’s a testament to the quality of the event. We are grateful for all the volunteers and sponsors. Without their support, we couldn’t pull off an event of this magnitude — and the drivers really appreciate the effort.”
Winners now prepare to take their skills to the next level at the National TDC.
“We’ve had a good amount of success before, but it’s not easy to win there. Through the years, we’ve had a few class winners, and event one Grand Champion in Al Lewis of YRC. We have an experienced team going to nationals this time around, and I have confidence they’ll do well.”
The Alabama Trucking Association wishes to thank the following businesses for their support of the Alabama Truck Driving Championships:
AAA Cooper Transportation
Southland International Trucks
Utility Trailer Sales of Alabama
Vertical Alliance Group
ATA Workers’ Comp Fund
B.R. Williams Trucking, Inc.
Continental Tire Co.
Dolphin Line, Inc.
J&M Tank Lines
McGriff Tire Co.
Montgomery Transport LLC
Nextran Truck Centers
R.E. Garrison Trucking
Shoreline Transportation of Alabama
Wright Transportation Inc.
P&S Transportation Inc.
Mid State Thermo King
Ward International Trucks
B&G Supply Co.
Bridgestone Commercial Solutions
Hunter Oil Co.
JP Transportation Safety Consulting
McGough Body Shop
McLeod Software Corp.
Star Truck Parts