U.S. Xpress driver Jaron Grier was working low-end jobs just trying to get over a hump when some friends of his, who had gotten their CDLs, recruited him to trucking. In his first year as a professional driver, he’s already being recognized for the quality of his work.
Grier was recently announced as a finalist for the 2019 Mike O’Connell Award for Trucking’s Top Rookie. The award will be presented by Truckers News at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Aug. 22-24.
Trucking has given Grier an elevated sense of responsibility when it comes to time management, he says. His everyday life is more organized because he has to manage his time well to make appointments.
“Time management is starting to trickle down into my everyday habits. It’s making me professional. I’m on time, and I’m retaining a lot of knowledge,” Grier said. “I feel like it’s heightened my character, being so responsible and having so much to learn at once, being that it’s a new field.”
Before trucking, Grier worked as a dishwasher and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Mount Ida College in 2013. Dishwashing was a good fit for Grier because he’s always valued cleanliness, and that’s translated to the way he takes care of his truck. “There are no crumbs or anything on the ground,” Grier said.
When he’s not behind the wheel Grier is at home helping his mother with his three younger siblings, who are between 12-16 years old.
“They’re at that point in life where they need all of the support they can get in life from someone that can actually teach them something about life,” Grier said. “My mother isn’t at the best health in her life, she’s going through a trial of health scares, so I try to be there to support them as much as possible during my downtime.”
The Mike O’Connell Award for Trucking’s Top Rookie will be presented at the Great American Trucking Show Friday, Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. on the Truckers News Stage in Hall “A” of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. Registration for GATS is free online in advance of the show.
The winner receives $10,000. They also receive a prize package worth $530 from the RoadPro Family of Brands, which includes a RoadKing Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headset, LUMAGEAR Headlamp, PowerDrive 1000 Watt Bluetooth Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter, BlackCanyon 64 oz. water bottle, BlackCanyon Large Duffle Bag, MobileSpec Qi Wireless Charging Mount, and RoadPro 12-Volt Soft Side Cooler. The winner also receives a ClearDryve 200, Rand McNally’s premium noise-cancelling 2-in-1 headphones with removable earpieces and adjustable boom mic and the current Deluxe Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas.
The other 10 finalists receive $1,000, a RoadPro Family of Brands MobileSpec Qi Charger, and Rand McNally’s ClearDryve 200.
The Top Rookie award is presented by Truckers News with the support of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, National Association Of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, and 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. The award is named in his honor. He believed that honoring a top rookie driver helped show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry.