Georgia flatbedder wins 2017 Trucking’s Top Rookie award

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Updated Aug 28, 2017
Daniel Shonebarger won $10,000 and other prizes when he was named Trucking’s Top Rookie at GATS.Daniel Shonebarger won $10,000 and other prizes when he was named Trucking’s Top Rookie at GATS.

A Georgia flatbedder was named the 2017 Trucking’s Top Rookie award winner during a ceremony today at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. Daniel Shonebarger, from Columbus, won the award, which includes $10,000 and a prize package.

Shonebarger drives for Melton Truck Lines and attended Georgia Driving Academy. He got his CDL eight years ago and pulled a reefer for six months, but he had a young family and it wasn’t good timing for him to be away from home. He had to take a break from trucking and turned to warehouse work intstead. Now that Shonebarger’s kids are older, he’s returned to the trucking career he’d always aspired to.

He said he was honored to be announced as the Trucking’s Top Rookie winner.

“I just do what I do. I love driving trucks and I have a passion for it,” he said. “I would tell rookie drivers to keep doing it. If you’ve got a passion for it, keep doing it. You never know where it’s going to take you. You could be here next year.”

Shonebarger’s driver manager Carolynn Orr, in her nomination letter for Shonebarger, said his attitude and work ethic make him a great team member.

“Although I have known Daniel for a short time, I have been really impressed with him.  Daniel always has the best attitude, even when things go wrong. I can always count on him to make on time deliveries,” Orr said. “Coming in as a new Driver Manager there is so much to learn. Daniel has always been patient and treated me with respect. He is the definition of what a Melton driver should be and a true team player. It is a pleasure to work with him.”

Daniel Shonebarger in his truck.Daniel Shonebarger in his truck.

Shonebarger’s complete prize package stuff:

  • $10,000 cash
  • Expenses paid trip to the awards presentation in Dallas
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • American Trucking Associations “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” package, which includes a logoed polo shirt, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • An IntelliRoute TNDTM 730 LM GPS Unit and a Deluxe Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • A dash cam and CB radio from Cobra
  • Feature story in Truckers News

The Trucking’s Top Rookie award is presented by Truckers News and sponsored by:

  • The RoadPro Family of Brands
  • Rand McNally
  • Cobra Electronics
  • Progressive
  • RedEye Radio
  • ATA

Partnering with Truckers News in the search are the three national organizations overseeing truck driver training:

  • Commercial Vehicle Training Association
  • National Association Of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools
  • Professional Truck Driver Institute

Recognizing the top rookie driver was the idea of the late Mike O’Connell, who was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association. He believed that honoring a top rookie driver helps show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry.