A truck driver of more than 40 years was awarded the Minnesota Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year Award for his attention to detail, focus on safety, and maybe even his recognizable mustahe.
Winner Scott Smith says that trucking wasn’t his idea, and he didn’t expect to stay in it long, but the last 43 years and 4.6 million miles have treated him well.
“[My brother-in-law] didn’t want to do it by himself, so he talked me into it,” 67-year-old Smith said to Star Tribune.
“I never thought of it being a full-time career,” – that was in 1977.
Smith works for BarOle Trucking, who nominated him for the award and says they’re not surprised he won.
“Safety is our Number 1 focus and Scott is excellent at that,” said Luke Kotilinek, BarOle’s vice president and CFO. “He checks over and over and makes sure about being safe on the road.”
“Shocking. Overwhelming. Unexpected,” Smith said of his reaction to receiving the award, which includes a trophy, $500 cash, a Kwik Trip gift card, and a personalized leather jacket in addition to the accolades.
Smith has traveled across most of the lower 48 and has avoided many dangerous situations, but says he has seen an increase in high speeds and dangerous driving in others sinc the pandemic hit.
“You just have to be aware people are going to take chances,” he said. “I don’t understand why people are in such a hurry all the time. You have to understand they are going to be and you have to be ready for it.”
“Get up earlier. Leave sooner. Live longer,” he said.
While Smith has never been in a wreck where he was at fault, he was involved in a collision with a motorist several years ago, during which a motorist disobeyed a stop sign and entered a highway without looking, driving into the side of Smith’s rig.
Smith’s wife, Karol, who also happens to be his boss, says that many of their other drivers look to Smith for help, and trust him to give the best advice.
“His mustache is very prominent and everybody knows him because of that,” she said. “He stands out because of his knowledge. He is the example for everybody. If there is a question, he is the one they go to.”
Smith also volunteers as a Scout Leader for the Boy Scouts and works with the Minnesota Trucking Association’s ‘Trucks and Toys’ campaign during the holidays.
While trucking isn’t where Smith used to envision himself, he says it’s been a great place to be.
“You enjoy being in charge of piece of equipment,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”