Honoring drivers who go the distance — and then some

It takes about a decade of moving goods safely on America’s roads to earn Million Miler status, and we’re celebrating the accomplishments of the professional drivers who hit — and even exceed — that incredible milestone.

“These drivers take fantastic care of the customers we serve, and they have kept themselves and others safe on the roads while they’re getting it done,” said Lamont Williams, vice president of OTR and Variant Fleet Operations. “They’re truly among the best of the best, and we couldn’t be prouder to have them on our team.”

One driver who will be honored at this year’s Million Miler event is William Freelove, who has driven an incredible 3 million safe miles in his 40 years with U.S. Xpress.

The secret to his success? It’s actually pretty simple, Freelove said.

“The most important thing that I’ve learned about on the road is patience,” he said. “If you have patience, you’ll get along just fine.”

Freelove’s 3 million miles of safe driving may be a tough number to wrap your head around, so let’s start here: Consider the average driver in the U.S. covers 14,263 miles each year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. At that rate, it would take an ordinary driver 70 years to cover 1 million miles. So, by the standards of an everyday driver, Freelove has done 210 years of driving — and done it safely.

Other ways of calculating what 1 million miles really means? Try 40 trips around the circumference of the Earth, twice to the moon and back, or two years of driving if you were behind the wheel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 60 miles per hour.

“To record over 1 million safe miles, these drivers have had to be constantly aware of what could happen on the road — they’ve never lost sight of that, and they’ve always been prepared,” said David Tomshack, director of Driver Safety for U.S. Xpress.

Over two days this week, these drivers and their guests will visit Chattanooga for an awards dinner and social outing, as well as recognition and celebration at U.S. Xpress headquarters.

“These drivers truly focus on safety in everything that they do — they live and breathe it even in their personal lives,” Tomshack said.

And no matter how long they’ve been behind the wheel, they’re always looking for ways to move goods better, Tomshack added.

“They have all got the mindset that ‘I learn something new every day,” he said.