COLUMBUS, Ohio – More than 400 drivers from across the U.S. kicked off the 81st annual National Truck Driving Championships and Step Van Driving Championships held by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and their safety management council.
The drivers had to compete in regional events for the opportunity to battle it out this week to claim the title of 2018 National Truck Driving Championships Bendix Grand Champion.
Twenty-eight of this year’s drivers are “rookies” competing this year for the first time. The 424 competitors have a combined 693 million accident-free driving miles.
Putting their skills to the test drivers are navigating their way through a series of problems on the closed course. They have also completed a written exam which serves as one-third of their final score.
Drivers will also complete a section on pre-trip inspections showing they can detect vehicle malfunctions, and will put their in-cab abilities to work driving through an obstacle course including things like a “rubber duck test” that asks them to navigate without hitting a duckie bath toy on the floor. The test pays homage to the most famous “Rubber Duck” – a character in the trucking song and movie Convoy.
“The trucking industry’s attention is turned to Ohio’s capital this week, where some of the country’s best drivers are competing for the trucking glory,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “It is a true testament to the entire trucking workforce that hundreds of truck drivers put in thousands of hours of driving practice and study in order to compete for the crown as grand champion.”
Five finalists in each of eight vehicle classes and one step van class will be announced Saturday morning and will then spend the day on a championship course to determine a winner. Winners will be named in each of the nine categories and one overall winner will be crowned the 2018 Bendix Grand Champion.
When not watching the main event attendees can also explore a course-side exhibit hall, test their driving abilities in the ATA Interstate One truck driving simulator, and shop for official merchandise.