We have done some stories about truck drivers who make a million miles without a safety incident, and a few who have gone a bit further than that. But we think this trucker is close to having the most safe miles in recent memory. Four million miles without any type of citation whatsoever is a pretty big deal. And he’s still going.
Meet Con-Way truck driver Thomas “Dale” Williams. Over the years, he has seen both good and bad while driving close to 4 million miles as a professional trucker.
- He’s seen a rainbow with six bows over a little country church that took his breath away.
- He’s seen a dog stand vigil for three days over another dog that had been killed by a car.
- He’s competed at the nationals five times and finished second in his class in 2004.
- He’s seen accidents and fatalities and some pretty foolish behavior.
“Unfortunately, driving is no longer the No. 1 priority in a vehicle anymore,” the Strawberry Plains man said. He also noted that even though he managed to make 4 million safe miles, he’s going to continue his career as a truck driver for many years.
Through it all, Williams has never had so much as a speeding ticket, a moving violation or an accident in a career that’s included state driving championships in North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina contests.
“The Lord watches over me, and I give credit to him for everything,” he said.
The 53-year-old also said that when he took an aptitude test back in his Army days, the results said he was qualified for any duty except driving a truck. So he became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne.
After the Army, he began his career driving cross country in Texas in 1980 with trips that took him to California, up to Washington State and over to Minnesota. After eight months he realized long distance trucking just wasn’t for him and switched to regional driving.
He’s been with Con-way Freight since 1987, having started in his native South Carolina before transferring to Charlotte, N.C., where he worked for 10 years. In 2001 he transferred to Knoxville where he met his wife Karen.
The couple has a 23-year-old son, Cole, along with a daughter-in-law and grandson in the area.
Williams has logged 2,750,000 miles with Con-way and currently works Monday-Friday, putting in 11- or 12-hour days that take him to Birmingham, Cincinnati or Roanoke and back.
“I like the security of working for this company,” he said. “I also like the fact that when I’m driving I’m my own boss,” he said. “If it’s snowing and I don’t think it’s safe to be on the road, it’s my decision whether to drive or not.” There’s another big perk as well.
“I’m able to be home every night and sleep in my own bed,” he said.
He admits that after driving 600 miles, he’s not usually thrilled to leave the house while Karen, who works in an office, often wants to go somewhere. They also have different approaches to traveling.
“I like to look around and see nature,” he said.
Karen typically reads and his son watches videos. But when driving for pleasure or work, he remains consistent.
“On a recent trip in my own vehicle my son was beside me, and he looked over at the speedometer and says, ‘You know you never go over 62,” Williams said, noting that his work rig has a governor that limits its speed to 62 mph.
“I guess after all this time my body is just used to it,” he said.
He reminds people that safety and courtesy are choices drivers make.
“You also have a choice not to respond to that text message while you’re in the car,” he said. “A lot of people have enough trouble driving without distractions.”
Article written by Terry Shaw, a freelance contributor to the Knoxville News Sentinel.