Twenty-six years and 2.6 million miles later,newly named captain James Curtis is ready to make a better public image for truck drivers in his hometown of Albuquerque,N.M.
One of the 12 picked by the American Trucking Association,Curtis,of 901 Hendrix Lane,will join others on the 2001 America's Road Team (ART) to serve until May 2003. While in training,Curtis said he wants to get back to his hometown and listen to the concerns of truckers and non-truck drivers.
“I'm playing it by ear right now,but I want to get out there,improve our image as being professional and safe truck drivers,and remind people about safety and just being courteous,” Curtis said.
At 54,Curtis said he won't be slowing down on his job,as over-the-road driver for ABF Freight System,Inc.,to keep up with his new responsibilities,which include addressing transportation issues with highway safety departments,testifying before congressional hearings and teaching driver safety and courtesy courses.
“For me it's simple and clear. Be courteous and safe-minded. If you can do that,then the rest is easy.”
Having a few close calls in his professional career,Curtis was able to have a clean driving record for the ART judge's panel,which selected the12 from 35 finalists. He attributes his love of driving to his success.
“I started in the Army when I was thrown into it at 18 and I loved it. I have all the freedom in the world,to go where I want to go and make my own schedule to get things done,” Curtis said.
The team will train for the next week before beginning their solo mission at their home states. For Curtis,the basics of being a kind driver on the road are what he hopes driving students and motorists will take away after talking with him.
“I've never done this before,but I hope I can convince people I talk with to share the road and be considerate of others.”