Jul 20, 2019
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Testing Your Skills: Truck Driving Championships

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Driving an 18-wheeler is an excellent opportunity to get paid to see the entire country. Truck drivers that are skilled and drive safely bring home a substantial paycheck to their families. Some of the top drivers in the nation sharpen their skills by having some fun racing big rigs on the weekend. Truck Driving Competitions are not only exciting for the entire family, but they also improve a truck driver’s skills. You may wonder how is that true?

Truck drivers that compete regularly are continually being made aware of road safety. At competitions, they strategize on how to handle unexpected obstacles that they will find every day on the roadways throughout the country. This forethought makes big rig drivers more prepared to handle whatever comes their way, and they make a more safety-conscious choice in the heat of the moment.

Example of a Big Rigg Driving Schedule

To help show the competition benefits better let us illustrate using an example of a competition schedule. Take, for instance, the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) Truck Driving Championship. It is a 3-day competition sometimes held near Disneyworld in Florida. The competition has three classes:

  • 2 Axle Straight Truck
  • 3 Axle 2-foot Tractor Trailer
  • 5 Axle 48 or 53-foot Tractor Trailer

Once a driver chooses which of the classes they are going to compete in, they sign up. Then when it comes time for the competition. Here is how the schedule goes:

Day 1

There is a driver orientation and then an exam. The questions on the exam are taken from the Federal Motor Carrier Saftey Regulations Handbook and the ATA Facts for Drivers.

Day 2

Truck drivers go to the course and try to find ten “planted” equipment obstacles along with safety hazards. They look for six additional problems on the course that they experience every day while driving on the roadways of America. 

Then the race is on. Truck drivers race the course meeting the obstacles as fast and safely as they can and go for the win. 

After they finish their race, they wait for the scores to come in. What information is used to score the drivers? The ratings are from the three parts of the competition:

  • Driver’s knowledge of safety, operating procedures, highway safety rules, first aid, and fire-fighting procedures from the exam.
  • Driver’s skills used in evaluating situations while driving on the course from one obstacle to another.
  • The number of defects on the course the driver identifies in the pre-race inspection.

This competition schedule is just an example of one truck driving championship. There are many held through the states for many months of the year. Competitions like these improve truck driving safety through awareness and practicing driving skills in front of a crowd.

Closer Look at the Benefits of Truck Driving Competitions

Let us take a closer look at the different ways competitions help improve the skills of a driver. The benefits not only come during the time preceding the tournament but even after the event, the lessons learned on the course can be of great interest to any truck driver. Here is a list of some of the benefits:

  • To prepare for the competition, a driver needs to familiarize themselves self with the safety manuals and driving handbooks for the test. They would also have to be up to date in first aid procedures and fire fighting requirements for truck driving. 
  • A requirement for this competition is that the truck driver has an accident free driving record for one year. This means the driver must not have any at fault accidents or drug or alcohol-related violations on their driving record. This qualification would help keep a driver focused on safety and not wanting to miss on on the opportunity to race and win $500 to $2500 prize money. 
  • Drivers gain training on overcoming road obstacles with their 18-wheeler while under more significant pressure than they find on the road. They are driving before judges, their families and friends, and fellow professionals. The obstacles are strategically “planted.” They come one right after another, which takes skill and experience to overcome. 
  • As a driver is working throughout the year, the competition will be on their mind. This focus will encourage the driver to keep making safety a priority. Drivers wanting to compete are more aware of the need to focus on safe driving so they are not disqualified, and they can compete at the race. 

With over 8 million truck drivers in the United States and the average truck driver drives over 100,000 miles per year, moving 10.5 billion tons of freight safety is vital for the driver and the public. The fact is without truck drivers, the economy would come to a standstill, and America would stop. America must have safety-conscious drivers to keep moving.

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