Atkinson named to America’s Road Team

Ben Atkinson of Lawtey was named to the American Trucking Associations America’s Road Team. He and 23 other professional drivers will serve as trucking industry ambassadors.


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American Trucking Associations announced that Lawtey’s Ben Atkinson has been selected as a 2024-25 America’s Road Team Captain, joining 23 other professional drivers.

“It’s a reward for a job that I’ve done for 36 years,” Atkinson said, adding, “It’s exciting and very humbling to be selected.”

America’s Road Team, which is sponsored by Volvo Trucks, consists of drivers representing 14 states and 14 carriers, with a combined total of 61.6 million accident-free driving miles.

Atkinson was one of four drivers from Florida selected for the team and one of three drivers from ABF Freight Systems Inc. He’s driven for ABF Freight for 20 years and drove for Consolidated Freightways for 15 years before it went out of business.

“This elite group of professionals rose to the top of their field through years of hard work, dedication and an unwavering commitment to safety that is measured in millions of miles,” American Trucking Associations President/CEO Chris Spear said. “These exceptional individuals embody an essential segment of the American workforce whose contributions are seen and felt by virtually everyone in this country. As these captains now head over the road with a new mission and a vital message to share, we take extreme pride in their achievements and know that our nation will learn many valuable lessons from them and the example they set for our entire industry.”

In October 2023, 36 Road Team finalists representing 20 states were announced. They went to Washington, D.C., in January for the final round of the selection process. Atkinson said each finalist had to participate in personal and media interviews and give a speech about the trucking industry on a topic of their choice. They were judged by industry officials and representatives of industry related media.

“There was a lot of pressure,” Atkinson said. “I was sitting there saying, ‘Just keep breathing, and you won’t pass out.’”

He didn’t pass out and obviously did just fine with his interviews and speech, receiving the navy blazer signifying him as a Captain of America’s Road Team the next two years.

Atkinson said the honor wasn’t something he was necessarily seeking. He views his selection as simply a confirmation of how well he’s performed as a driver.

“I was acknowledged for doing the right job for so many years,” Atkinson said.

America’s Road Team members serve as ambassadors, speaking about the trucking industry as well as on safety. They’ll travel throughout the country in the American Trucking Associations’ Interstate One Image Truck (Volvo VNL 760), which tows a trailer that bears an image of the U.S. flag and contains a truck-driving simulator and mobile classroom.

Ben Atkinson (center) is pictured with the other ABF Freight System drivers who were named America’s Road Team Captains: David Hedicker (far left) and Terry Bennett.

“We get out and do programs and try to teach people about sharing the road and how to drive around tractor-trailers,” Atkinson said. “We take simulators out and actually put people in the seat and let them see what it’s like sitting in a truck going down the road. It’s a great educational tool for safety.”

Atkinson has proven to be a safe driver, accumulating 3 million accident-free miles. He received the ABF Freight silver and bronze awards for 30,000 and 15,000 consecutive hours driving without an accident as well as ABF Freight’s 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-Year Safety Performance Driving awards.

“Your greatest accomplishment you want every day is not just for everyone around you to get home safely, but for you to get home safely,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson once worked in sales, but his father-in-law, O.J. Boyett, suggested he look into trucking as a profession. Atkinson said he took a driving test and was asked to take a gladhand off. (A gladhand connects air hoses from a tractor unit to the air brakes on a trailer.)

“I didn’t know what a gladhand was,” Atkinson said. “I looked right at him and said, ‘Listen, I don’t know enough about this to be safe to do it.’”

Atkinson’s wife, Cheryl, who’s now retired from teaching in the Bradford County School District, suggested he take time off and take the commercial-vehicle course at what is now known as North Florida Technical College.

The knowledge he was able to gain at a school in his home county has led to a long career. Therefore, Atkinson can’t say enough about North Florida Technical College and its various areas of study. He encourages local young people to look into what the school offers.

“It’s a great opportunity, and it’s right in your backyard,” Atkinson said, adding, “College isn’t for everyone. We need more trade schools, and we need people taking advantage of these trade schools and their opportunities.”

Atkinson uses the knowledge he acquired every time he’s on the job, of course, but he also puts it to the test by competing in truck-driving competitions, which he’s participated in for 19 years. He’s never earned an individual trophy, but he and his fellow ABF Freight drivers have won team trophies in 2005 and 2023, which is a “pretty big deal for a small company like us,” Atkinson said.

Ben Atkinson is pictured with his wife, Cheryl, displaying the Large Team Champion award he and other ABF Freight drivers earned at the 2023 Florida Truck Driving Championships.

As an America’s Road Team Captain, Atkinson now looks forward to sharing his knowledge with others. He said it’s like he’s following in his wife’s footsteps and is now a teacher.

“She’s retired, so I guess it’s my turn to step in there,” Atkinson said. “This will be my opportunity.”

American Trucking Associations COO Sarah Rajtik said, “America’s Road Team Captains embody the professionalism of our industry, helping to promote a positive image by sharing their stories. They are leaders in their communities and role models in their companies.

“This new class represents everything we strive to promote about our industry and its professionals.”

America’s Road Team was created in 1986.

“This program is essential to our industry,” said American Trucking Associations Chairman Andrew Boyle, who’s also co-president of Boyle Transportation.  “Captains serve as ambassadors, communicating our message of safety, professionalism and opportunity. I wish the new Captains a warm congratulations and thank them for their hard work and dedication to trucking.”

Atkinson said truck driving can be a challenging career, but it’s one that has been good to him.

Of course, one of the reasons it’s been a good career is that Atkinson is mindful of safety and the responsibility he has sitting behind the wheel.

“The best thing to do is just keep your head facing forward,” he said. “Keep your eyes forward and always try to do the right thing. Don’t try to take shortcuts.”

If you’d like to know more about America’s Road Team and/or American Trucking Associations, please visit