The truck driving “Roadeo” was started in 1937 to bring awareness of safety issues to the trucking industry.
Check out this link to learn about the history of American Trucking Association that has been responsible for many of the safety measures we have in trucking today.
The following photos were taken at the Arrowhead Travel Center in Pendleton, Oregon and are from the Ken Gourdy Collection.
To be an eligible “Roadeo” contestant the few rules are: the contestant is NOT an Owner/Operator but a Company Driver.
The contestant MUST be accident free for one year. Fault or no fault accidents are disqualified.
One year of accident free driving may not seem like much until you consider, for example, the 10,000 miles we drove in the month of July this year equates to about six months of normal driving a family in a car would do.
Each of the 50 states in the US have their own competitions starting in March or April. The winners of state competitions go on to the Regional competitions. The winners of the Regionals then go on to the Championship being held in Salt Lake City, Utah this August 20 to 24, 2013.
Competitions include a course for cement trucks, forklifts, box trucks, snowplows, and semi truck and trailer combinations.
The obstacle course is laid out, usually at a fairground. Each contestant will drive through a designated area marked off by construction cones. The course requires the driver to weave in and out of a coned area forward and backward. Points are taken away for each cone they touch or knock over.
The course tests the driver backing skills into a difficult area as though backing up to a dock. The following photo is from 2002 at Iowa.
There is not a cash prize for the winner. Recognition as the “Champion” at the final event is what compels each contestant.
Each trucking company represented at the state, regional, and finals gain the reputation of winner as well.
Just in case I have led you to believe this competition is all about the best “Hot Dog” to run the course….there is more to this competition than just the driving skills test, which is the course.
The morning begins with the much dreaded “Written Test”. Each contestant has to bone up on the DOT (Department of Transportation) driving manual beforehand. The written test is to see how much the actual driver knows, and remembers, about the federal regulations that are required for every truck driver to know – and pass the test.
Not surprisingly, 1 in 5 of the contestants will pass the written test with a score of 100%. That would be 1 in 25 to score 100.
Then, after the written test, comes the “Inspection” test. A truck or truck and trailer has been mechanically dithered with. It is up to each contestant to find the 10 DOT Violations on the vehicle being inspected. These violations can include a headlight out, low tire tread, air brakes out of adjustment, air pressure leaking, wiring exposed, cracks or breaks in the electric or air line supplies to the trailer. Tricky little devils trying to see what the contestant knows about his/her business.
These two parts of the “Roadeo” reflect the trucking companies policies of safety. I mean you send four of your best drivers to the state level competition and they fail the written exam and the visual inspection test….what does that say about the concerns for highway safety?
The driving course is timed for 12 minutes. This time may seem long to those of us that do not participate. To the contestant this time seems to fly by them as they maneuver through the course.
I would think the skill course would deflate any puffed up chest who goes into it declaring they will beat the time. Especially after they hit the first mail box in the snowplow competition, for example.
The winners of this “Roadeo” gain recognition for themselves and their companies on state and regional levels. The “Champion” gets to be envied until the next year’s event.
The company represented by the Champion is held to a higher standard of safety and spends the year keeping up the challenges of maintaining their fleets of trucks in good working order.
In short, this “Roadeo” acts as the standard bearer of the entire trucking industry. Through this competition rules of the road and safety issues are implemented. Some are good and some are challenged.
Highway safety, in all of its forms, are considered during this competition. Even so far as the lane width requirements of highway and roadway construction through lanes.
Keeping our highways safe, the trucks that travel and work locally or over the road are well maintained, and making both company and driver responsible for public safety is what this competition is all about.