The Truckload Carriers Assn. has announced that six professional truck drivers — three owner-operators and three company drivers — have made the cut as the top contenders in the 2012 Driver of the Year competition.

Albert Carter of Melton Truck Lines, Tulsa, OK; Daniel Poorman of Gordon Trucking, Inc., Pacific, WA; and Danny Smith of Big G Express, Inc., Shelbyville, TN, will compete for the company driver of the year title.

For the owner-operator contest, the contenders are Bradley Chapdelaine, who is leased to Dart Transit Co., of Eagan, MN; Jimmy McSwain, who is leased to Sunco Carriers, Inc., of Lakeland, FL; and Robert Stewart, who is leased to Interstate Distributor Co., of Tacoma, WA.

In a sad turn of events, TCA has learned that owner-operator contender Jimmy McSwain passed away unexpectedly last week. He will continue to be in consideration for the grand prize. Whether he wins or not, TCA said it plans to recognize him appropriately during the contest-related activities, which will take place during the association’s annual convention, March 3-6, 2013, at the Wynn Las Vegas.
“My condolences go out to Mr. McSwain’s family and friends,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. “He was a 20-year veteran driver with more than 3.5 million miles of safe driving under his belt. Very few can claim such impressive credentials, and I sincerely wish we could honor him in person for his achievement.”

The overall goal of the Driver of the Year competition is to recognize and pay tribute to the outstanding company and owner-operator truck drivers who provide reliable and safe truck transportation in moving the nation’s goods. The top three in each category are selected based on their ability to operate in a safe manner on the public highways, efforts to enhance the public image of the trucking industry, and positive contributions to the communities in which they live.

To be eligible for the contests, driver applicants had to meet certain minimum criteria, such as having driven one million consecutive, accident-free miles. Trucking companies were limited to nominating only five drivers for each contest. Previous grand prize winners were not eligible to enter either contest again.

The contest judges examined each applicant’s operating information, work history, and safety record. They also evaluated each applicant’s 300-word essays explaining why he/she is a good “trucking citizen” and should be a candidate for the grand prize. For the owner-operators, the judges reviewed equipment specifications, business plans, and financial statements as well.

“These six individuals represent some of the most outstanding drivers in our industry,” said Robert Low, TCA chairman and president of Prime, Inc., of Springfield, MO, said. “My hats are off to them for their many miles of safe driving and their dedication to keeping North America’s freight moving.”

Those who are interested in submitting a pre-application for the 2013 Driver of the Year competition should visit https://www.truckload.org/Driver-of-the-year.