Saluting drivers

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Truckers do not just carry freight: they carry us.” -Motto of truckload carrier Mercer Transportation, Louisville, KY.


Being a truck driver in today‘s society ain‘t easy. It‘s not a career encouraged in most homes or schools and truckers themselves are at best ignored or at worst treated as third class citizens by most of the general public. Everyone complains about big trucks incessantly, attributing to them total responsibility for a whole host of ills - traffic congestion, roadway degeneration, highway fatalities, air pollution, take your pick - without considering why they are there in the first place.


Trucks deliver roughly 80% of the food on the shelves, raw materials in the factories, and finished goods from appliances to new cars. I mean, without trucks - and especially without the truck drivers at the wheel - the economy stops. Period. End of story.


So I‘m going to take a moment here to salute the truck drivers - the heroic ones that step into the breech to save lives on down to the regular Joe‘s and Jane‘s putting in the miles day in and day out to keep the goods flowing and the economy humming. The saying goes in journalism that a picture says a thousand words. I‘m thinking these probably say ten thousand, if not a whole lot more.


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Goodyear‘s 25th Highway Hero, Richard Filiczkowski (left) and Goodyear‘s 1st Highway Hero, Ronnie Stapleton, span the company's history in promoting North America‘s truck drivers. They recently joined forces at the Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, to describe the heroics of truck drivers on America's highways.

Ronnie Stapleton, of Beckley, W.Va., used his bare hands to tear off the back door of a burning car, and then breaking the back seat in two as he extricated two unconscious occupants. At that time, Stapleton - who also was a preacher - was hauling explosives in his DuPont truck. The 67-year-old owns two trucks and is still driving.

Richard Filiczkowski, of Zion, IL, and a driver for C.R. England, jumped into an icy South Dakota pond on April 26, 2007, to save Abby Bern, a 9-year old trapped in a car after it skidded of the road. Richard‘s wife Janet Filiczkowski, at the wheel of their truck at the time, witnessed the crash and alerted Richard in time for him to save Abbey‘s life.



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Earl Martin out of Ft. Wayne, IN, is not only proud of his motto ('It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy'), he‘s proud of the detailing the Chrome Shop Mafia put on his Peterbilt.


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When longtime driver Leonard Testerman died last year in a construction accident at his home, the tributes poured in from everywhere. One of the best is a mural of the truck Leonard and his wife Charlene used to drive - a customized Peterbilt nicknamed "Rollin‘ Thunder" - painted on the side of Bob Martin‘s newly made-over truck, courtesy of S&J Truck Sales and Shell Lubricants. It‘s a more than fitting tribute to a driver sorely missed by the trucking community.


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A husband and wife team I am fortunate enough to know, Tom and Debbie Berkel, travel the highways in fine style - with a sleeper compartment that contains a shower, full kitchen, and more. Debbie is a great cook so I hope to sample a slice of the homemade bread she cooks in her trucking kitchen someday soon.


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Nothing says ‘fun‘ the way the one and only ‘Frightliner‘ does. Owned and operated by Starshine Express out of New Kingstown, PA, I‘ve always enjoyed seeing this ‘scary‘ truck at various truck shows - and if there‘s a more fitting salute to Halloween out there, I don‘t know of it.

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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