Driven to Help
Trucker awards celebrate highway heroes
Did the FBI really have to do it? In April the law enforcement agency put out word that it saw a connection between highway killings and long-haul truckers. Sure the officials made the point that drivers are not more likely to be serial killers than those in other jobs. They were saying that in specific circumstances they looked at suspects who chose to drive a truck. But that didn’t stop the press from illustrating the story with a photo of non-truck driver Charles Manson, and running the headline “FBI database links long-haul truckers, serial killings.”
As if the image of truckers hasn’t been dragged through enough mud.
Fortunately a number of organizations work hard to present the true story of the men and women behind the wheels of America’s big rigs.
For example, throughout the year the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) gives the Highway Angel award to truckers who help fellow road travelers. “It’s not always the best interest for a driver to stop and help,” says Debbie Sparks, TCA vice president of development. “Their job is time sensitive, there are questions of liability once you get involved. It’s hard to be a good Samaritan these days.”
Yet TCA has heard all sorts of stories involving courage and selflessness on the part of truckers. One driver called in and then followed a car described in an Amber Alert on a missing teenager. His action led to the young lady being brought back home. Another stopped to look for a young driver thrown from his car when it slid out of control on ice. He stayed with him until medical help arrived. He also called the young man’s mother and talked her through everything that was happening with her son.
The Goodyear Highway Hero Award also seeks out and rewards drivers who go out of their way to help others. This year’s winner, Jorge Orozco-Sanchez, pulled two little girls out of a burning SUV. Pained that he was unable to save the girls’ mother, the owner-operator thought he wouldn’t go back to trucking. The award ceremony where he was named Goodyear Highway Hero of the Year renewed his spirit. “I’ve been very thankful for for this wonderful program,” he said. “It’s helping me to heal and deal with the hard things I’ve been going through since the accident.”
“Time after time, truck drivers have emerged as bona fide heroes,” says Joseph Copeland, of Goodyear. “When motorists have needed help, they’ve stopped and put themselves in harm’s way.”
Both organizations urge those in the trucking industry to nominate drivers for these awards. Good stories by far outnumber the negative, and the public needs to hear them.