Each of us wants to fit in. We have a desire to be involved, to contribute, to make a difference.
Being a UPS Road Code facilitator has provided all of that and more. I enjoy sharing the training I taught to the new UPS drivers with the teens – it provides a valuable lesson for them before they get their driver’s license. When I see the students’ confidence build through the class and when they proudly accept their certificate of completion for the course, I’m proud to know I’m making a difference.
At UPS, we are known for our iconic drivers. UPS customers have come to count on them for 105 years. They’re trusted, familiar faces in neighborhoods and businesses across the globe. But our drivers are more than helpful and friendly—they’re also very safe.
UPS has just recognized this year’s class of elite drivers—1,283 strong—for their induction into the prestigious Circle of Honor. The group, in a class by themselves, has achieved at least 25 years of driving without an auto crash. The UPS Circle of Honor continues to reach record heights, totaling 6,486 drivers.
The summer before I turned 16, I took the driver’s ed class at my high school. I remember being in a classroom and then driving with a teacher in the parking lot, but I don’t remember much else. Back then I didn’t have the distraction of a cell phone (I’m showing my age here), but I still managed to get my first ticket when I was 15 (I had my learner’s permit, and was with my mom coming home from the grocery store).
Nowadays, there are some really cool ways to use technology to impart wisdom before you get behind the wheel. UPS Road Code is an interactive program that incorporates the safe driving techniques used by our drivers across the world and allows students to get behind the wheel of a virtual driving simulator.
Two brothers at UPS have mastered the art of icy sidewalks, antisocial dogs and phantom mailboxes. Walt Klein has achieved 41 years of safe driving (the most in the district’s history for a delivery driver). His brother, David Klein, has 36 years of safe driving. With their records combined, they have been driving safely for over 75 years. Day in and day out, the brothers have accumulated over one million miles delivering packages without so much as a scratch on them or their vehicle.
The brothers sat down to discuss their accomplishments and their introduction to driving—a tractor on the family farm.
Where did you grow up?
BOTH: Grandville, Iowa, part of Sioux County.
How was your dad when you all were growing up? Was he the type that didn’t talk a lot and focused mainly on taking care of the farm?
DAVE: He was very geared towards work, but he never wanted us to do a half job. “You do the job and do it right,” is what he always said. He pushed us hard in regards to work ethic.
UPS has always viewed distracted driving as a serious issue. It’s a leading cause of vehicle accidents, especially among teens. Distractions come from a variety of sources: texting, eating, using phones, adjusting the radio or talking with passengers.
To help combat distracted driving, in 2009 UPS and The UPS Foundation developed UPS Road Code, a four-session safe-driving program for teens that teaches the consequences of hazardous and distracted driving. The program leverages UPS’s safety methods and strong safety record.
UPS again set a new record for the latest class of amazing drivers who have gone 25 years without an accident – 1,235. This year’s additions bring the total number of active Circle of Honor drivers to 5,842. These drivers have collectively driven more than 5.3 billion miles without an accident.
And the safest driver of them all is Ron “Big Dog” Sowder from Springboro, Ohio, who recently celebrated 50 years of safe driving. That makes Ron the safest driver in UPS history. Ron has been driving safely longer than many people have been alive. And speaking of being alive, there’s no telling how many lives he has saved by steering clear of accidents for so many years and so many miles. Ron has amassed more than 4 million miles without so much as a scratch.
Think about how long 50 years is. (If you’re approaching an upcoming birthday for that milestone, maybe don’t. Think about cake and good friends instead).
Five decades. Half a century. 436,800 hours. It’s a long time.
It’s also the years of safe driving that UPS Feeder Driver Ron “The Big Dog” Sowder has just racked up. (Feeder trucks are the big semis that you see rolling down the highway. “The Big Dog” is a cool nickname for someone who’s good at what he does).
Go behind the scenes with Team UPS at the National Truck Driving Championships
It was game on at the weeklong competition in Orlando, FL, that featured more than 400 of the best drivers in the business, including 19 UPSers who won U.S. state championships this year to qualify for the Nationals.
I can’t tell you how many times that question was asked when Robb Mariani, the bearded host of American Trucker, put on some browns to ride with UPS’s own safety champ Ron “Big Dog” Sowder. Though you will never see a real UPS driver with a beard, we decided to give Robb a pass on the facial hair.
Robb and his crew were featuring UPS operations on the Speed Channel show that travels the globe featuring big trucks and the people who drive them. Robb is a real fan of trucks and truckers and his enthusiasm was obvious as he and his crew filmed at Chicago CACH, Cincinnati and Louisville Worldport operations.