Virginia Truck Driving Championships promotes driver safety

The two day competition is being held at Wytheville Community College

WYTHEVILLE, Va. - The Virginia Trucking Association's Truck Driving Championships are being held at Wytheville Community College this weekend.

The competition brings out drivers such as David Bowers, who you can find checking every nook and cranny of a semi-truck.  He's been inspecting them for the last 47 years, but it's only in the last nine years or so he's been doing it for sport.

"Once I got into it, I was hooked," said David Bowers, a truck driver.

Bowers was hooked into the Virginia Trucking Association's Annual Truck Driving Championships.

"It's a safe driving competition, mainly to promote safety in the industry," said Dale Bennett, president of the Virginia Trucking Association.

According to the American Trucking Association, large truck-involved fatal crashes declined 32% between 1980 and 2015.  Organizers  hope competitions like the annual championships encourage drivers to keep the trend going.

About 100 drivers from all over Virginia are competing.  They must complete a "pre-trip" check where they inspect the truck looking for planted defects.

"They' re judged on whether they find them, and whether they have a systemic means of going around the truck checking for those, which every driver is required to do before they leave on a trip,"  said Bennett.

Then, truckers jump into the cab, and maneuver their trucks through a course simulating everyday situations like driving in tight spaces.
   
 "You're not really competing against each other,  you're competing against the course and what all you can do," said Bowers.    

The competition ends with a written exam.  Drivers are awarded up to 300 points.  Those earning the most get a shot at the national competition and the pride of knowing their a state truck driving champion. 

The national championships will be held in Orlando in August.   Each trucker must have driven accident-free for a year in order to be eligible to compete.


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