Dave Miller was running a few minutes late from work.
"Traffic," he said.
Miller knows a thing or two about traffic, having logged 1.5 million accident-free miles in his 25 years as a professional tractor trailer driver.
The St. Charles resident started behind the wheel in his early 20s, delivering goods across the United States, and on the road for months at a time. He'll pull doubles and 53-foot trailers weighing 40 tons.
Today, Miller is employed at the recently merged Yellow Roadway Corp. in Montgomery, the largest LTL (less than truckload) company in the world.
Miller works mornings in the docks at the company's Montgomery terminal and then heads out to cities throughout northern Illinois, delivering goods to businesses and households -- everything from automotive parts to a pallet of 2,000 pounds of rubber mulch to a residence in Geneva.
"Everything in your house was delivered by truck," Miller said.
He's won state and national industry-sponsored trucking competitions that test a driver's precision behind the wheel and mechanical aptitude. He's also toured the country educating the public about the importance of driving safely on behalf of the American Trucking Association's designated Americans Road Team.
On Saturday, Miller will compete in the Illinois Professional Truck Driving Championship, hosted at Joliet Junior College. The event, sponsored by the Illinois Trucking Association, involves 132 drivers from 13 companies who have accumulated 35,220,970 miles of accident-free driving.
"You can't drive a truck like a sports car," Miller said, adding he's not a driver who changes lanes and he's never gotten lost. He describes driving the suburban roadway network as though it is on the palm of his hand.
Miller said one of the most important safety tips he wants the motoring public to realize is that it takes longer for drivers to stop a truck and to start from a red light.
He's witnessed lots of crashes during his career, especially among cell phone users.
The course for the Illinois Professional Truck Driving Championship consists of six driving problems, requiring skill and tenacity on the part of each driver. The drivers have 10 minutes to complete all six courses.
"They might have us parallel-park a 53-foot trailer within 57 feet of space and be within 18 inches of the curb in order to score points," Miller said. "They might have us park within inches without touching a cone -- one year they put a rubber duck on the course."
The purpose of the competition is to promote safety and professionalism within the industry. Winners will go on to compete at the national level in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Aug. 18-22 for the American Trucking Association's National Truck Driving Championships.