Monday, April 24, 2017
John McKown has been working in the trucking industry for more than 20 years – 12 of them as a Teamster at UPS Freight in Pennsylvania. But his greatest achievement on the road happened when he was selected to join the American Trucking Associations’ “America’s Road Team” program.
“I can’t put in to words how great it felt to be chosen to be part of this elite road team,” said McKown, who is a safety trainer at UPS Freight and a member of Local 776 in Harrisburg, Pa.
It wasn’t his first attempt at joining the two-year program, which was established in 1986 to help educate the public about the trucking industry. Last time McKown went through the rigorous application process and was among 32 finalists, but he was not selected for the program.
McKown explained that the process begins with being nominated by a supervisor. Drivers then have to submit application materials showing an accident-free safety record and strong community involvement.
“I have been heavily involved in the community through UPS Freight, working with the Salvation Army, the Red Cross – and on my own time I umpire Little League and volunteer at a nursing home. And I also help at the local VFW,” McKown said.
The second time around, McKown knew the process and his hard work paid off. He was selected for the 2015-2016 program along with 19 other drivers from various companies.
“There was such a strong feeling of pride, a feeling that I was following in my dad’s footsteps,” he said, referring to his father who is a 35-year retired Teamster. As a captain on the ATA Road Team, McKown takes part in community outreach at public events to raise awareness about trucking in America and conduct safety demonstrations for high school students.
“The ‘Share the Road’ program we do is so gratifying because you can see how you are really teaching these young kids about driving safely,” McKown said.
He recently went to a high school with the Road Team to teach students about blind spots on trucks. “We bring a truck to the school and park a car in the blind spot. When you get these kids up in the cab of the truck and they don’t see the car, you can see their eyes get big and you know you’re getting to them,” he added.
Even before being selected for the Road Team, McKown had experience teaching younger generations about trucks and road safety. He volunteers as a guest speaker in several high school drivers’ education classes. He is also participating in events at community colleges and other venues to promote careers in truck driving to students.
“The trucking industry is imperative to our economy – without trucks America doesn’t work, everything stops. That’s why I am so honored and humbled to be a captain on the ATA Road Team,” he said.