Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Frank Calvert named National Driver of the Year

Longtime AAA Cooper Transportation truck driver Frank Calvert has never been one to seek the spotlight, but lately he can’t seem to avoid it.

Last spring, the 78 year old was named the Alabama Trucking Association’s Professional Driver of the Year. Then earlier this month, the American Trucking Associations tapped him National Truck Driver of the Year.

He brushes these awards aside saying that all he ever wanted was to provide a good living for his family. But when you work your tail off for more than 60 years, become one of your employer’s most reliable employees, and earn a reputation for doing things correctly, you tend to get noticed.

He and other outstanding trucking leaders were recognized this week at the American Trucking Associations’ Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition held October 23-26 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

“Awards like these are the trucking industry’s acknowledgement of worthwhile effort applied to the area that matters most to our industry – safety,” said American Trucking Associations President & CEO Chris Spear. “Safety defines our value system, so whether you’re a million mile accident-free driver or an executive who dedicates resources to safety investments, we want you to know that you’re making a difference on the highways.”

Calvert, a driver for AAA Cooper’s Birmingham terminal, has been with the Dothan-based firm for more than 21 years, accumulating 3 million accident-free miles there. Overall he has nearly 5 million miles total.

“I cried when I heard it,” Calvert told his hometown newspaper, The Cullman Tribune. “This is even bigger than just winning it for Alabama, for one state, you know? I feel very humble because there are a lot of drivers out there. You never think you will be the one to get an award like this.”

Calvert is the third driver from Alabama in to earn National Driver of the Year. Reuben Thomas of Sessions Co. in Enterprise won the award in 1957. Thomas saved a woman trapped in a burning car and was given a Driver of the Month award from ATA’s then Council of Safety Supervisors. He also received an Arthur Godfrey “Gentlemen of the Highways” citation presented by the TV personality and American Trucking Associations.

Alabama saw its second national driver of the year, as N.F. Plunkett, who drove for Chevron USA out of Birmingham and was named ATA’s Alabama Driver of the Year in 1983. He was picked as the National ATA’s Driver of the Year the following year.

At age 60, Plunkett had compiled a spotless safety record in 37 years of driving that included an accident-free 2.5 million miles on the road. He traveled throughout the country that year promoting the trucking industry and trucking safety.

Calvert says he has no immediate plans to retire, but believes he’ll probably start slowing down within the next year or so.

“I still have the urge to do it, and I try to learn something new every day,” he said. “I always tell the young folks if you’re not learning something new, you are failing. You won’t be prepared for whatever comes along. I’ve been blessed with good health. I thank God every day for that and for taking care of me and my family all these years. Even after 60 years, I love what I do. I really don’t know how much longer I can stay with it, but the Lord will let me know when it’s time quit. I’ve been so blessed.”