TORONTO, Ont. – George Smagala, a professional transport driver with Labatt Breweries Ontario, has been named the 2001 Ontario Trucking Association (OTA)/Volvo Trucks Canada Driver of the Year.
A professional transport driver for 25 years, Smagala has accumulated four million collision-free kilometres. The award was presented during the opening ceremony of the 2001 OTA convention.
He is also a past member of the OTA Road Knights Team, a select group of truck drivers who share their knowledge of how all road users can be partners in safety with transport trucks. As a Road Knight, Smagala delivered hundreds of presentations to community groups, business clubs, and car driving schools.
Smagala has an impressive career as a professional truck driver having driven a combination of city and highway routes, and over the years, has won many company and industry awards for safe driving.
“George Smagala’s outstanding driving record, and his dedication to safety exemplify the commitment to road safety made by Ontario’s professional truck drivers,” says David Bradley, OTA president. “but it is in the way he goes about his day to day work – both on and off the road – that makes him stand out.”
Smagala helps to train new company drivers, and has been involved in the research and development of driving and other safety programs at Labatt. He is also involved in numerous industry safety organizations.
“Labatt is extremely proud of George’s many accomplishments and we congratulate him on winning this prestigious award,” says John Brown, Labatt’s Toronto transportation manager. “Over the years, we have received numerous calls from both customers and motorists praising George’s commitment to safe trucking and it is this passion that makes George a role model for road safety.”
This year’s selection committee included representatives from the OTA, the OPP, the Ministry of Transportation, Transportation Health and Safety Association of Ontario (THSAO) and Truck News.
“Although my name is on this award there are literally thousands who deserve this and I’m proud to be their representative,” Smagala says.
“Having the right employer that believes in recognizing its drivers is the key.”
In a short, but heart-felt speech, the trucker thanked his father for teaching him the ways of the road and managed to choke back his tears of joy long enough to invite the senior Smagala up on stage to share a hug in front of the thousands of attending delegates.
Smagala receives a $300 cash prize and a personal trophy courtesy of Volvo Trucks Canada Inc.