By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN Of the 22,000 semi truck drivers employed by YRC Freight, only 22 have driven at least 3 million miles for the company without an accident.
Charlie Brown, of Delano, recently joined that club.
Over the course of his 38-year career, Brown has driven about 3.5 million miles without an accident, including the last 3 million miles over 31 years with YRC.
“I’ve never had an accident in a commercial vehicle and I’ve only gotten one speeding ticket,” Brown said. “I’ve hit 11 deer to date, which really isn’t that many.”
Brown said his lack of accidents is “nothing but luck,” but Burnsville terminal manager Frank Santovi said there is more to it than that.
“Think of the law of averages of going 3 million miles in 30 years without an accident with the weather and other conditions they face,” Santovi said. “It’s impressive. It takes skill. I’m not going to say luck because we tell our drivers not to run on luck.”
Santovi spoke highly of Brown’s driving ability.
“He’s a focused individual when it comes to driving skills and ability,” Santovi said. “He goes the extra mile.”
Brown drives the 450-mile route from Burnsville to Bismark, ND, on a regular basis.
“Maybe that’s half of it,” Brown said of the “secret to safe driving.” “I’m not in a lot of traffic. We used to run to Kansas City and Chicago. Once I’d get to Rockford, I’d be in traffic already for the next three hours. Rush hour in Fargo is five minutes.”
Santovi talked about the training drivers go through and the regulations they must comply with.
“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a 2-inch thick book of regulations,” Santovi said. “They have to go through regulatory training annually through OSHA because we handle hazardous materials.
“I take some of these things for granted and the general public probably doesn’t understand what we go through as far as compliance, safety, and accountability,” Santovi continued. “Companies get a rating for that and drivers take it very seriously. If they exceed a certain threshold, it can affect their employment and it can certainly affect the company.”
Overall, safety is the No. 1 priority.
“We go through a lot of effort to train them and make sure they’re safe,” Santovi said. “We put an emphasis on developing a safety culture. We want people to come to work safe and go home to loved ones safely.”
YRC presented Brown a plaque for his accomplishment.
His wife, Carol, and friends took a different approach. They had a poster created featuring Brown’s cartoon namesake in a semi with Snoopy in front of it.
While Brown downplayed the accomplishment, he appreciated the gesture.
He plans to drive another four years.
“I like driving,” Brown said. “I don’t mind that at all.”