Participants in the 79th annual National Truck Driving Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, took to the road course Thursday (Aug. 11) for the second challenge phase in the competition to identify the best drivers in the U.S.
More than 430 professional drivers from all 50 states are competing for top honors in eight different classes, plus step van, and the chance to be named the 2016 Bendix National Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion.
“The drivers competing this week are the best of the best – dedicated to improving their abilities and knowledge of the industry,” said Kevin Burch, President of Jet Express Inc. and First Vice Chairman of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. The ATA is holding the competition at the Indiana Convention Center through Saturday (Aug. 12).
“They strive for excellence and push one another to do the same, knowing that by practicing for this competition they’re making the roads a safer place for the motoring public,” he said.
The competition consists of three challenge phases – a pre-trip inspection, a written examination and a driving course. Participants started Thursday on the driving course, which requires drivers to navigate tight turns and obstacles.
Cummins is celebrating the championships and hopes they will bring attention to the nationwide truck driver shortage. The ATA estimates the driver shortage is currently around 48,000 in the United States and if current trends hold could reach 175,000 by 2024 as a significant population of drivers near retirement age.
“I am proud that Cummins, with our engines and technology, helps truck drivers work in a safer, more dependable atmosphere,” said Amy Boerger, the company’s Vice President of Sales. “Continuing and growing this proud and important segment of our economy is critical to how we do business and how Americans receive the goods they expect.”
Bill West, a professional driver and captain of America’s Road Team at the championships, said driving is a great career.
“I get up every day and know the work I am doing directly impacts the American economy,” he said. “I can also see real opportunity professionally and personally. …This is a great profession and I encourage others to look into it.”
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