Thursday, February 14, 2008

Heroes among us

Truckers daily perform a difficult and absolutely necessary job for low pay and even less public thanks. You know all too well that “truck driver” is a slur in some mouths.

So I always look forward to the annual Goodyear Highway Hero announcements, which recognize often incredibly courageous drivers who, just minding their business, suddenly find themselves racing into peril to aid complete strangers.

I’ve met a number of the finalists in the program – you cannot call it a competition without diminishing the whole idea. Every one of them has been just an average Joe or Jane, a bit embarrassed at being in the limelight, and earnestly declaring that anyone would’ve done what they did.

They know that truckers do good deeds every day – often involving courage and quick-thinking under great pressure – with no recognition. Some don’t want to be singled out, others probably have orders from their litigation- and hijack-fearful employers to NOT stop and help.

This year, one nominee plunged into a river to rescue an elderly woman trapped in her car; another jumped into an icy pond to free a child from a sinking car; and a third shielded a pregnant woman from her enraged boyfriend – who tried to kill her with his pickup truck, then took aim at the trucker and another man who had stopped to help – killing the latter.

The fourth nominee was a driver who died when his rig was run off the road and he swerved it to prevent hurting others – I wish there were a Phantom 309 award for who do this.

To read the stories of all of the finalists, click here.

Journalists from the trucking industry are now voting on the four finalists, who will be featured March 27 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY. One driver will be named the 2007 Goodyear North America Highway Hero at the Truck Writers of North America annual banquet and receive a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a plaque and a specially designed ring; the other finalists will receive a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond and plaque.

For more on the program, click here.