‘Super Bowl of safety.’ Connecticut truckers prepare for National Truck Driving Championships in Ohio
Driving up and down I-95 isn’t always smooth sailing – that’s why Connecticut’s truck drivers pride themselves on safety.
Several Connecticut drivers are headed to Columbus, Ohio next week for the National Truck Driving Championships - described as the “Super Bowl of safety.”
“People consider driving stressful,” XPO driver Ernie Budlowski said. “It isn’t for me, it’s fun.”
That’s the spirit that made Budlowski a national finalist in truck driver safety. He’s one of Connecticut’s representatives in this year’s competition.
It’s known as the “truck driver’s Olympics” for the unique skills competitions that decide the best of the best. Connecticut placed third last year - but the team at XPO has set their sights even higher.
“To bring home the trophy,” state champion driver Derrick Caro said. “It would be a really big accomplishment for me going there for the first time, so I’m just excited, I’m ready. I’m just going to go out there and do my best.”
The events have more in common with curling than the 100-meter dash. Whether it’s guiding a truck through a series of slim gates, stopping at just the right spot or lining the truck’s tires up with narrow strips for the highest point value – these events aren’t about speed at all, something drivers take to heart every day on the road.
“Safety is the number one factor going down the road,” Budlowski said.
“It makes us all come home to our families at night,” Caro said. “Driving trucks on the road is not like driving a car. It’s two completely different things.”
“It’s in my blood, and it always will be,” Budlowski said. “There’s nothing, to me, better than having a full moon, the stars out, there’s not too many people on the road. To me, that’s the best feeling.”
The championships begin Aug. 16 in Columbus.