TORONTO, Ont. – Not many people can say they’ve logged 8.5 million kilometers behind the wheel, and even less could attest to that time being accident free.
Dale Cockins can, which is precisely why the Meyers Transport truck driver has been named National Driver of the Year at the Ontario Trucking Association’s annual convention.
The Belleville trucker is getting used to receiving some hardware for his stellar driving record, as Cockins was last year’s recipient of the top driver in Ontario.
“With this award, Dale is the best of the best,” said Canadian Trucking Association (CTA) president David Bradley. “He embodies the definition of a trucker’s trucker; he’s safe, passionate and truly cares about the people that work alongside him, his customers and other drivers he shares road with.”
The CTA-Volvo Trucks Canada National Truck Driver of the Year award is established by the CTA and sponsored by Volvo Trucks Canada. The award finds its way into Cockins’ hands after 48 years on the road for the Roslin, Ont.-born trucking veteran, who grew up working with heavy machinery on the family dairy farm and in the woods cutting logs with his father and brother.
Still a high-school student, Cockins’ older brother, Wayne, taught him how to operate a truck, running as a part-time team until he was old enough to purchase his own truck – a 1961 International 4-ton.
Since his high school days, Dale has owned eight trucks and has been with Belleville’s Meyers Transport for the last 22 years.
“He’s efficient, he’s dependable and above all, he’s safe,” said Meyers’ president Jacquie Meyers. “Equally important, he always puts customers first. He goes the extra mile to make sure our customers are happy, whether he’s met them or not.”
Clearly with a soft-spot for the Holiday season, a few years back on Christmas Eve, Dale noticed a child’s swing set sitting on the delivery dock that had arrived late, and couldn’t help but conjure up his inner Santa Claus, contact the customer personally and deliver the swing himself to ensure the young recipient was not disappointed Christmas morning.
“That’s just typical Dale,” said Meyers’ vice-president of operations, Joe Ball. “It’s the kind of thing he does without hesitation.”
Dale was also one of a handful of truckers who volunteered to deliver food and supplies during the 1998 ice storms in Quebec and Eastern Ontario – a moment the back-to-back award winner points to as one of the most gratifying moments in his near half-century career.
“I’ll never forget that – the smiles, the handshakes – just how thankful they were for every load,” Dale said. “That’ll stay with me forever.”