2023 Rewind: Numerous drivers recognized for their achievements

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Updated Jan 1, 2024
James 'Gragg' Wilson with trophy
James "Gragg" Wilson is this year's Bendix Grand Champion of the National Truck Driving Championships
American Trucking Associations

Screenshot 2023 12 11 At 5 30 33 PmFor most professional drivers, 2023 was pretty much about staying safe, meeting pickup and delivery times, finding a decent parking spot when needed, and avoiding the madness created by four-wheelers paying more attention to their smartphones than the highway ahead of them. Those things made for good years for most drivers.

But, for some truckers, the year that's almost over was extra special. For any number of reasons, plenty of drivers were singled out for recognition. It may have been for their driving skills, their commitment to safety, their willingness to help others in need, or for the roles they play in their communities.

Candy BassCandy Bass, Women In Trucking's driver of the yearWomen In TruckingWhatever the reason, there were plenty of drivers who made their companies, their familes and the industry as a whole proud. Here's a look back at some of them.

James "Gragg" Wilson, who drives for United Parcel Service, was named the Bendix Grand Champion of the 2023 National Truck Driving Championships. The competition took place Aug. 16-19 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Wilson has 37 years of experience and 2.5 million miles to his credit. See details.

Mary “Candy” Bass, a professional driver at Transport Designs, Inc., was the winner of the Women In Trucking's fourth annual Driver of the Year award sponsored by Walmart. Bass has driven for 50 years, accumulating 6 million accident-free miles. See details.

Bob Bramwell, a driver for ABF Freight won the American Trucking Association's 2023 Mike Russell Trucking Image Award. Bramwell has been a professional truck driver for more than 18 years and has accumulated over 2 million accident-free miles. See the other recipients.

Five truckers were named Drivers of the Year by the Truckload Carriers Association. The winners included Richard Boehrer, of Knight Refrigerated; Daniel Clark, of Classic Carriers; Emily Plummer, of Prime Inc.; Rose Rojo, of John Christner Trucking; and Thomas Sholar, of Maverick Transportation See details.

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Brandon Meredith, who drives for Slay Transportation won the 2023 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. He spent 20 years in the Army, retiring from the service March 31, and is a third generation truck driver. See details.

Zach YeakleyZach YeakleyLawrence “Jim” Sanchez, a tractor-trailer driver for United Parcel Service, received the National Safety Council’s prestigious Joseph M. Kaplan Safe Driver of the Year Award for his milestone of 38 years of safe driving. See details.

Zach Yeakley, a professional truck driver with CFI, based in Joplin, Missouri, was named the 2022 Highway Angel of the Year by the Truckload Carriers Association and its Presenting Sponsor, EpicVue. Yeakley was honored for helping six victims of a massive accident. See details.

Kirl Tartt, who has driven for Maverick Transportation for 33 years and 45 years overall, was recognized for having driven 4 million safe miles. When he was recognized by Maverick, it was learned that Tartt has tarped over 4,600 flatbed loads and delivered over 6,200 loads. See details.

Don Crouse has been an over-the-road driver for more than 50 years, and today drives for the trucking division of Boyd Grain of Washington, Indiana. He was named by the Pilot Company as its 2023 Road Warrior grand prize winner. See details.

Tim DeanTim DeanTim Dean became only the second driver for Werner Enterprises to reach what the company called a "remarkable milestone" of driving 5 million accident-free miles. See details.

Andrew Waits, a J.B. Hunt driver from Tacoma, Washington, was named the winner of the 2022 Goodyear Highway Hero Award. Waits was honored for his actions at the scene of an accident that injured a motorcycle driver. See details.

 Henry “Wayne” Hayes was named this year’s International Driver Excellence Award winner by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Hayes has driven 4.1 million safe miles during his 38-year professional career. H drives for for Autozone. See details.

Bobby Dale Rue, a dedicated driver for FedEx, was named the Tennessee Trucking Association's Driver of the Year. He has driven more than 3 million miles and has never had a preventable accident, and never received a violation or citation. See details.

Emanuel WindhamEmanuel WindhamAnthony Perkins, a driver for Yellow Corp., was honored by the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Licensing and Commercial Standards section for reaching the 4 million miles of safe driving milestone. See details.

Emanuel Windham, a driver for Blair Logistics was named the Alabama Trucking Association's commercial driver of the year during its annual Fleet Safety Awards Banquet. He has 30 years of experience and over 3 million accident-free miles. See details.

Robert Crater, Henry Grider, David Wolford, Timothy Burnett, and Jerry Joyner are this year's finalists for the American Trucking Associations' Safety Management Council's 2023 National Driver of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the ATA’s Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition, held in Phoenix, Arizona, in April.  See details.

Rodney Haskins of Atlantic Bulk Carrier was named the Virginia Trucking Association's Driver of the Year for 2023. Haskins has been a professional driver for 18 years and has driven close to 2 million safe miles. See details.

David Wolford, a longtime driver for Continental Express, was named the Ohio Trucking Associations Driver of the Year for 2023. He has driven more han 2.5 million safe miles. See details.

Ryder System, Inc. announced the winners of its Driver of the Year awards, which honor the top professional truck driver in each of its three business units. With more than 96 years of combined experience and nearly 9.6 million miles driven between them, the honorees included Lance Simmons, Greg Cassell, and John “Keith” Kevil. See details.

Nelson Landry with South Louisiana Community College was named the 2023 Louisiana Truck Driver of the Year. Landry drove for 31 years and amassed over 3 million accident-free miles. See details.

Scott Swenson, who drives for the Dart Transit Company, was named the Minnesota Driver of the Year. Swenson has driven for 46 years, 40 of them for Dart. See details.   

36 drivers were named finalists in the selection process to name the next group of America's Road Team Captains. The new members of the the team of safety and image ambassadors for the trucking industry will be named Jan. 16. See the complete list of finalists.