UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced the induction of 928 drivers into its elite "Circle of Honor," raising to 4,793 the number of active drivers who have steered clear of accidents for 25 years or more.
The number of new inductees is the largest for any single year in the company's history.
Collectively, the 4,793 drivers have logged more than 5 billion miles and more than 136,091 years of safe driving through their careers. That's enough miles to circle the earth 212,000 times.
Of the Circle of Honor members, 231 have been accident-free for 35 or more years, with 17 of those having driven more than 40 years without an accident. UPS's top safe driver in 2009 is Kentucky District tractor-trailer driver Ron "Big Dog" Sowder, who has achieved 48 years and 4 million miles of driving without an accident.
"It's an honor to lead this remarkable group of seasoned safe drivers," said Sowder. "I'm not ready to stop just yet - 50 years without an accident has a nice ring to it."
"Safe driving is not an afterthought - it's at the very heart of our culture," said Debbie Gehricke, UPS's corporate health and safety manager. "Our drivers make a choice to be the best. The Circle of Honor is a testament to the daily dedication that our drivers display in keeping the roads a safe place for everyone."
This year, 11 female drivers have joined the ranks of those with more than 30 years of safe driving. This group is led by Orlando tractor-trailer driver Ginny Odom, who is credited with 35 years and more than 3 million miles without an accident.
UPS's 102,000 drivers worldwide are among the safest on the roads, logging more than 3.3 billion miles per year with less than one accident per million miles driven.
"We salute Ron Sowder and the other UPS Circle of Honor drivers," American Society of Safety Engineers President C. Christopher Patton, CSP, said today. "What Sowder has done, driving 48 years without an accident, is an amazing feat and one that should be recognized worldwide. ASSE members continue to work every day at preventing workplace injuries, especially those that occur on the roads, as roadway incidents are the number one cause of on-the-job deaths. Because of people like Sowder and the UPS Circle of Honor drivers, our roads are safer - not only in the U.S. but worldwide."
All UPS drivers are taught safe driving methods beginning on the first day of classroom training, including the company's comprehensive safety course, "Space and Visibility." The training continues throughout their careers.