The 75th annual National Truck Driving Championship won't feature a race. There will be no drifting. If you come looking for Peterbuilt wheelies, you won't find them in Minneapolis, where the competition will be held.
But you will find the safest drivers this side of the Mississippi, duking it out to see who can claim the title of "World's Best Scales Stopper," and the like. But no word from the event's sponsors about what winners will get to reward their victories.
Seeing how safe truck driving is a great way not to kill innocent people as well as to ship vegetables from Mexicali to American supermarkets without disruption, the most likely prize will be a pat on the head and the satisfaction that comes from being the kind of trucker who won't kill people with asshat-style driving. It doesn't sound like much, but thankfully, it seems that a lot of truck drivers take safe driving seriously.
The competition includes such blisteringly exciting events as parallel parking, line stopping, and straight line driving with diminishing clearance. If you've never driven a large vehicle through a gauntlet of parked cars and box trucks, you have no idea how thrilling doing those seemingly mundane maneuvers can be. We can't imagine what a gripping sight it will be for the 2,000 spectators expected to attend the event.
The American Trucking Associations, the trade organization that puts the event on, said in a release that the competition, once called the National Truck Roadeo and now known as the "Super Bowl of Safety," is one of its most important safety programs. In order to compete, drivers must stay accident free for a year before the competition, a requirement ATA said motivates more truckers to stay safe all year.
I applaud ATA for a valiant effort to keep outreach alive and encourage safe driving, but the competition doesn't sound all that exciting. Although it will probably be a rich spot for people watching. So there you have it. Safety. People watching. It's in a convention center, so there's probably someplace spectators can buy a $12 beer. Everybody wins.
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