Press Release

ATA Reveals Five Finalists for National Driver of the Year Award

Nov 14, 2023

Washington –Today, the American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council announced the five professional truck driver finalists for the 2023 ATA National Driver of the Year Award, one of the industry’s highest honors. 

“The Driver of the Year award honors professional drivers for their commitment to safety and professionalism,” said SMC Executive Director Jacob Pierce. “These five candidates have all demonstrated real dedication to this industry over their careers.  On behalf of ATA and the SMC, I want to congratulate them.” 

The ATA National Driver of the Year Award, sponsored by EROAD, acknowledges one notable professional driver for career-long professional achievements as well as for excellence and commitment to safety on the road. Nominees are selected from a pool of outstanding state Drivers of the Year submitted by ATA’s affiliated state trucking associations. Each candidate’s qualifications and achievements are examined by a group of industry safety professional judges who narrow down the nominees to a group of finalists. 

This year’s finalists are: 

  • Robert Crater, nominated by the North Carolina Trucking Association. Crater has 41 years of experience, the past seven with Unifi Manufacturing Inc., and has more than 2.6 million accident-free miles. Crater was the 2023 North Carolina Trucking Association Driver of the Year as well as the 2017 Unifi Trucking Driving Champion. 


  • Henry Grider, nominated by the Missouri Trucking Association. Grider has been driving for 43 years, the past 15 with Transland, and has tallied 1.4 million accident-free miles. A decorated Army Veteran, Grider served as an Army Ranger from 1968-1973, earning three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. He was also part of MTA Chair's Safe Driver Club from 2017-2021. 


  • David Wolford, nominated by the Ohio Trucking Association, has 20 years of experience, nearly all of it with Continental Express Inc., and nearly 2.5 million accident-free miles. He was Continental Express's 2020 Dedicated Driver of the Year as well as the winner of the 2022 OTA Driver of the Year Award. 


  • Timothy Burnett, nominated by the Trucking Association of New York, has 35 years of driving experience – the past 30 with Walmart Transportation. Inc. With 3.9 million accident-free miles, Burnett was New York’s Driver of the Year in both 2016 and 2022.  


  • Jerry Joyner, nominated by the Kansas Motor Carriers Association, has 50 years of experience, the last 33 with Walmart Transportation Inc. With more than 6 million accident-free miles in his career, Joyner was the 2008 Leo Wozniak Award winner as well as the 2010 and 2022 KMCA Driver of the Year. 


The Safety Management Council Awards & Recognition Committee judges each video submission and selects a winner. The winner will be announced at ATA’s Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition, held in Phoenix, Arizona, in April.