A trucker who has an impressive record on the road and also in his personal life is the recipient of one of trucking's major safety awards.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance recently announced AutoZone professional driver Henry “Wayne” Hayes has been named this year’s International Driver Excellence Award winner. Hayes has driven 4.1 million safe miles during his 38-year professional career.
Hayes is an AutoZone regional driver who navigates loading docks and parking lots in business districts to safely deliver auto parts to company stores. He drives, on average, hundreds of miles per day, thousands of miles a week, making deliveries in the Southeast. Hayes has made thousands of store deliveries without ever having a preventable collision, safety violation, or even a speeding ticket.
“It is such an honor to receive CVSA’s International Driver Excellence Award,” said Hayes. “I realize there are many deserving drivers out there with great career records – drivers who prove their excellence in safety each and every day out on the road. I was honored to be a nominee and truly overwhelmed to be the recipient of this year’s award.”
Hayes added, “This means so much to me and my family. What an honor it is, and I am truly grateful and humbled for this opportunity.”
Hayes began his career 38 years ago when he went to work for Turner Dairy Company hauling milk and ice cream. This is where he received the driving handle, “Milkman.” Ten years later, in 1994, Hayes joined AutoZone, where he has been ever since, achieving more than 3 million safe-driving miles hauling auto parts to stores.
“On behalf of the Alliance, I’d like to congratulate Wayne for his outstanding and impressive safety record,” said CVSA President Maj. Chris Nordloh of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “This award, CVSA’s only driver-excellence award, is our way of acknowledging the crucial role drivers play in keeping our roadways safe. CVSA bestows its prestigious International Driver Excellence Award to one exceptional commercial motor vehicle driver each year. Wayne not only met, but far exceeded the award’s difficult and exclusive criteria.”
CVSA’s International Driver Excellence Award isn’t the only award Hayes has received during his professional driving career. In 2021, Hayes was nominated and inducted into the Driver Hall of Fame, AutoZone’s first-ever driver to be honored by the National Private Truck Council. In 2020, he was the inaugural AutoZone truck driver to log more than 3 million safe miles, and in 2021, Hayes received AutoZone’s Driver of the Year Award. He has also received numerous Extra Miler Awards for going above and beyond routine tasks, and he has a perfect attendance record for the 29 years he has been with AutoZone.
“Safety is very important to me,” said Hayes. “I try to always keep safety at the top of every action I take as a driver. I drive expecting the unexpected. I always anticipate what the motoring public will do when I pass alongside them or meet them in a parking lot. It’s not easy, but you have to look out for yourself and those around you.”
When asked what he enjoys most about his profession, Hayes said he enjoys traveling and meeting new people.
“I like interactions with new and fellow AutoZoners that I meet and work within our stores," he said. "I also like the close-knit, family-oriented relationships with my co-drivers that have been built throughout the years.”
“Wayne is a defensive driver, and he keeps his head on a swivel,” said AutoZone Distribution Center Transportation Operations Manager, Customer Satisfaction, Stephania Williams, who nominated Hayes for the IDEA. “He drives anticipating what the other drivers might do and says that when he sees all the kiddos when he’s driving on the highways, it makes him stop and think about safety first.”
“Wayne comes to work every day with a great attitude and his mind set on safety,” added Williams.
The feeling is mutual between AutoZone and Hayes.
“My AutoZone team has helped me along the way to keep safety at the forefront,” said Hayes. “AutoZone has provided safe equipment to drive; tools, such as site surveys and store directions; safety topics and reminders for drivers; and safe co-drivers. All of this helps me put safety first when I’m out on the road.”
With nearly 40 years of professional driving experience, Hayes has many valuable safety tips for his fellow drivers. “Always do a good inspection before you leave,” said Hayes. “Be prepared, know your route and what to except, and watch out for yourself and others.”
Like many professional commercial drivers, Hayes’ successful career would not have been possible without the support of his loved ones at home.
“I would like to thank and acknowledge my wife, Tammy,” said Hayes. “She has been my biggest supporter. If you are a driver, you are going to spend time away from home, which is the unfortunate part of this career. Tammy has always kept our home life working while I was out on the road. That isn’t an easy task. There are lots of responsibilities – raising kids, running the family business, keeping the home. But she has held it together all these years, and I am very fortunate to have her and a loving family supporting me.”
In addition to his impressive trucking career, Wayne and his wife, Tammy, own and operate a produce market, and it’s a family affair. His daughter, Ginger, works at the store and his son, John Henry, is a driver for the company. In addition, the Hayes family donates food to their local community food bank and Wayne volunteers at his church where he takes care of the church cemetery.
During his time off, Hayes enjoys spending quality time with his family and other loved ones, fishing with his grandkids, and helping at his family-owned and operated produce market.
“That is what I look forward to when I come home – family,” said Hayes.
Hayes will attend the CVSA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Grapevine, Texas, in September to receive $5,000 and a crystal trophy at the awards luncheon.
The 2023 International Driver Excellence Award was sponsored by PrePass Safety Alliance. PrePass Safety Alliance brings together state and motor carrier industry decision-makers to advance safety and efficiency on our highways. PrePass Safety Alliance’s mission is to make highways safer and more efficient through innovative data-driven solutions.
Nominations for the 2024 award will open in spring 2024.