Truck driver places 25th

Warren man competes in national driving championship

WARREN — Aaron Snyder, a local truck driver, placed 25th in his first National Truck Driving Championship.

Snyder was one of nearly 450 people who competed in the event Aug. 15 to 18, said Shelia Ross, senior director of public affairs at Strategic Public Partners.

Snyder represented FedEx Ground and his employer, Moore’s P & D Service, Inc. at the championship.

The competition was bigger than the state ones that Snyder is used to, he said. There were 200 to 300 people watching the drivers compete.

“I was nervous. I’ve done five state ones and it’s a completely different ballgame,” Snyder said. “It’s like minor league to major league.”

Snyder won the state championship in May. A total of 216 professional truck drivers competed in the state championship, said Ross.

“You go up to the state and you’re competing against 30 to 40 people in your class,” Snyder said.

There are nine classes, including step van, straight truck, three-axle, four-axle, five-axle, flatbed, tank truck, twins and sleeper berth, according to the national truck and van schedule of events. Snyder competed in step van, winning it to land a spot in the national championship.

There are three parts to the competition, Snyder said.

“There’s a pre-trip inspection where they take each vehicle and sabotage it. You have six minutes and you have to find all the defects that they make. There are usually 15,” Snyder said.

There is a written exam, which tests the driver’s knowledge of trucking facts and rules, as well as statistics and safety protocols. Then there is a driving course that is set up like an obstacle course, Snyder said. Drivers have to go through it without hitting any of the cones.

In order to qualify for the event, the driver has to remain accident free for a year and win in his / her class. Snyder has driven 750,000 accident-free miles over the course of his 15 years of being a professional truck driver.

Snyder said that this competition makes him more safe as a driver because “in the back of your head you’re thinking, ‘don’t get into that accident because you can’t compete next year.'”

For the competition, there’s little training that can be done, Snyder said. Drivers receive a “type of study guide” that covers what the trucking regulations are and what has changed, he said.

“Basically you’re studying that book,” Snyder said. “It changes every year. The state is constantly changing it.”

When drivers get to the national competition, they have to know the regulations for their state and other states.

Snyder hopes to do better next year.

“I got advice from people on how to do better next time,” Snyder said. “The test, I definitely got to study more for the history. They get tricky with the questions.”