Last week, I traveled to Pittsburgh to participate at this year's North American Inspectors Championships (NAIC) and the National Truck Driving Championships hosted respectively by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the American Trucking Associations.
Earlier in the week, FMCSA Chief Safety Officer and Assistant Administrator Jack Van Steenburg kicked off the competition by recognizing the contestants' contributions to safety and the agency's appreciation for their professionalism.
In 2012 alone, truck and bus safety inspectors conducted 3.5 million roadside inspections all across the United States. These highly trained safety professionals are the backbone of our nation's commercial motor vehicle safety program. Their hard work and dedication helps ensure that drivers and companies operate safely and that those that don't are removed from the road.
The 22nd Annual North American Inspectors Championships contest included competition in six categories, including inspection of hazardous materials vehicles, passenger buses and heavy cargo haulers.
On Friday, I was delighted to be on hand to congratulate this year's NAIC Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion award winner, JW Watlington. Mr.Watlington, of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, competed against 49 roadside inspectors from across North America. I was particularly proud when FMCSA Border Inspector Miguel Galindo won first place in the North American Standard Level V Passenger Vehicle (Motorcoach) Inspection category. Miguel is the first FMCSA safety inspector to win top honors at NAIC.
On Saturday, I took part in recognizing this year's truck driving champions at the 77th Annual National Truck Driving Championships, which brought together 426 highly skilled and experienced drivers from across the country who collectively have driven more than 653 million crash-free miles. They competed over four days in events that ranged from testing their driving skills on an obstacle course that recreated several real-world scenarios to a written exam on safety, security, and first aid. At the end of the four-day competition, Jeffrey Langenhahn, a driver based in Plover, Wisconsin, for Con-way Freight, was selected as the 2014 Grand Champion.
FMCSA congratulates all of the NAIC and NDTC Champions and everyone who competed. You are all winners! Thank you for your safety-first commitment and your exemplary efforts to make our nation's roadways safer for commercial vehicle drivers and everyone who shares the road with them.