FedEx Freight’s Charlie Salter repeats as Alabama TDC champ
Veteran FedEx Freight driver Charlie Salter of Prattville, Ala. took the Overall Champion’s Award presented by Truckworx at the 2023 Alabama Truck Driving Championships held June 9th at the Pelham Civic Complex near Birmingham, Ala.
The 51-year-old professional driver bested more than 88 others who competed in the one-day competition, which showcases professional truck drivers’ skills and commitment to workplace and highway safety but also serves as a qualifier for the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships later this summer in Columbus, Ohio.
Competitors are scored on a written exam covering driver safety and industry best
practices; a pre-trip vehicle defect inspection; and a 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 eight categories are announced at an awards dinner that evening. The three highest scorers from each class receive trophies and prizes, and special awards are also given to the event’s top rookie and highest score for the vehicle defects inspection.
TOP OF THE CLASS
Salter’s exceptional achievement not only exemplifies his experience and talent behind the wheel but also serves as a testament to the unwavering commitment of truck drivers like him who prioritize workplace and highway safety. As the industry eagerly awaits the showdown in Columbus, Salter’s remarkable victory amplifies the profound dedication and heroism exhibited by these unsung heroes of the road.
Salter took the top spot in the 5-Axle Class with a combined score of 387.5. It is his second time winning the Alabama TDC’s top spot, having also done so in 2017.
During his 32 years on the road, he’s maintained more than 2.7 million safe miles, earned dozens of company and industry awards, and is a member of the Alabama Trucking Association’s Road Team, a public service program that sends professional commercial drivers into high school driver’s education classes to teach kids about safe driving tactics and also promotes the industry as a career choice.
According to ATA Vice President of Safety & Compliance Tim Frazier, Salter is among Alabama Trucking’s most consistently successful TDC competitors, routinely placing among the top three of his class every year. He’s also competed at the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championship several times in the last 20 years — he’ll return later this summer.
“Charlie is a super performer for FedEx,” Frazier says, “He’s gone to Nationals to represent Alabama Trucking several times and even won the Overall Champion award for this event a few years back. He’s one of the most professional truck drivers I have ever had the pleasure of working with, always well-prepared, knowledgeable and experienced. He is an industry leader, serving for the last few years on our Road Team. He’s just a great person and credit to Alabama Trucking.”
Salter was visibly moved as he walked to the lectern during the contest’s awards ceremony and banquet dinner, telling the more than 230 contestants and guests in attendance that his professional year revolves around the TDC.
“This event makes us all better at our jobs,” he said choking back tears. “But the most special thing about this event for me is the camaraderie that we share as drivers. This room is full of my closest friends. It’s so hard to win this contest because of the stiff competition. There are so many great drivers here. I share this award with all of you, because, to be honest, there are some really special people here, and I truly appreciate your friendship and all you do for the industry.”
Perusing the official score sheets, many familiar names appeared at the top spots. The FedEx Freight team nearly owned the leaderboard, winning four of the eight classes and placing a dozen drivers in the top three of each category.
Others joining Salter as individual class winners were David Hawk, FedEx (Straight); Jean Laplante, FedEx Freight (3-axle); William Brandon, FedEx Freight (4-axle); Craig Edmonds, Walmart Transportation (Tank Truck); Michael McQueary, Publix Super Market (Flatbed); Eric Firestone, Church Transportation (Sleeper Berth); and Luis Bazan, XPO Logistics (Twins).
The Alabama Truck Driving Championships is a celebration of America’s 3.5 million commercial truck drivers. According to ATA Chairman of the Board Chris Cooper of Boyd Bros. Transportation, the Alabama TDC highlights the professionalism, talent, and skill of commercial drivers.
“Showcasing Alabama’s most professional drivers is so important,” Cooper says. “We want to show our deepest appreciation for the work they do day after day to keep the economy going strong.”
In his address during the banquet, ATA President and CEO Mark Colson made it clear to the group that the Alabama Truck Driving Championships is a celebration of a demanding job that is sometimes taken for granted by the public and, at times, the industry itself.
“When I took this job as ATA’s CEO, the TDC was the first event I attended,” Colson said. “It’s very special to me because it represents who we are as an industry. We are here to highlight the professionalism and talent of Alabama’s trucking industry, but especially the men and women who earn a living as truck drivers. You are the real heroes of Alabama Trucking.”
Check out the official highlight reel below powered by J&M Tank Lines.