YRC Freight driver Bobby Elrod has reached a milestone that few others can claim: He’s driven 5 million miles without an accident. Elrod, from Chickamauga, Georgia, has driven for YRC Freight for 45 years, and averages over 2,000 miles each week.
When he looks back on his trucking career he says it doesn’t feel like he’s driven that many miles already.
“It really doesn’t. Between the three and the five, I didn’t think I’d still be driving that long but I did. I feel good about it,” Elrod said.
He grew up in a trucking family and knew he wanted to drive a big rig even when he was a kid. His father, two uncles, brother and brother-in-law were all truck drivers. He likes trucking because he says it doesn’t tie you down and you’re like your own boss.
“I was only nine or ten when my dad passed away. Not that long ago, I went out to the cemetery. I told my dad, ‘I’ve reached five million miles without an accident, Dad. Can you imagine?’ It was a good moment. I’ve been blessed,” Elrod said.
Elrod was the first Smith System instructor out of the company’s Nashville terminal. His advice to drivers now is the same as it was then: Follow the Five Keys and always put safety first.
“I’d tell anyone if they pay attention to the Five Keys, and you stay alert all the time, it’s a wonderful program. You get the big picture. You know what’s going on around you. You keep your eyes moving every 2-4 seconds, stuff like that. Be alert to what other people are doing. It’s not only you; you have to protect the whole public,” Elrod said.
YRC Freight honored Elrod for his safety record with an event March 6 at its Chattanooga terminal. Elrod was inducted into the company’s 5 million-miler Driver Hall of Fame. The company is also introducing a new trailer wrap in Elrod’s honor. YRC Freight is also donating 50 children’s car seats to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, equaling one for every 100,000 miles he has driven without an accident. Elrod will receive a watch, die cast YRC Freight truck, plaque and a five-million miles accident-free commemorative jacket.
“When I got my first million I said well that’s good. Then I went on and got my second and then my third. That’s when they assigned a truck to me. That’ll make you proud, seeing your name on the side of a truck. I thought that was as far as I’d ever go then I reached my four million miles and I said wow, what would it feel like to get five? I reached five and I couldn’t believe it. It’s been super,” Elrod said.
Elrod even likes to spend his personal time driving a truck. He’s helped haul Indy race cars around the country for the last 15 years. He works for a couple of different race teams hauling their cars and equipment in his downtime from YRC Freight. He enjoys doing it because of all of the people he gets to meet at the different tracks.
“It’s amazing the people that you meet all over the country, from Canada to California. I’ve met several people like Paul Newman and Roger Penske. I’ve hauled cars for Sam Smith Motorsports,” Elrod said.