FARGO - If you’re looking for a safe driver, give Randy Peterson a call.
The Harwood, N.D., man has logged more than 39 years of accident-free driving for UPS, topping the company’s Circle of Honor for North Dakota.
It’s estimated that Peterson, who started at UPS in 1976, has logged more than 3 million miles with Big Brown.
Most of those miles were involved getting in and out of a delivery truck, perhaps 100 times a day, and weaving in and out of traffic.
“Driving defensively is a big key, being aware of your surroundings out there,” Peterson said Friday, March 8, before he prepared to take a tractor-trailer rig to the Twin Cities suburb of Eagan.
Training and practice make perfect when it comes to safety, Peterson said. Attitude doesn’t hurt either.
“You have to have an attitude that you’re going to do things safely, so that you don’t get injured at home or at work,” he said.
Peterson, who grew up in Valley City, N.D., had been a rural delivery driver for most of his tenure with UPS. He switched to over-the-road tractor-trailer driving about five years ago.
“I went and delivered to small towns, and farms and rural areas for many years,” the 64-year-old said. “Sounds kind of crazy, but … I used to look at it as going on a little mini-vacation every day. I could get out on the road and go and see what there is to see that day, whether that be the weather or the crops changing and the season and stuff."
He didn’t have to contend with a lot of city traffic, but gravel roads, rural intersections and sometimes wild weather require good judgment.
“When the roads are great, it’s really enjoyable. When they get a little tougher, you kind of question why you’re out there,” Peterson said.
The Circle of Honor is a group for UPS drivers who have logged 25 or more years of accident-free driving. Less than 20 percent of UPS drivers earn the award, according to Tim Johnson, the human resources manager for UPS’s Northern Plains District, which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Johnson said Peterson is a role model.
“Just a great person, probably leads by example in every area of safety, including driving and work wise,” Johnson said. “The type of guy every company would love to have.”
According to Johnson, in North Dakota there are 34 Circle of Honor drivers.
In Minnesota, there are 153 Circle of Honor members, UPS said in a news release.
Raymond Welk of Nowthen is Minnesota’s senior-most safe driver for UPS, with 48 years of accident-free driving under his belt, UPS said.
Peterson said he’s probably worn out eight vehicles since he’s been with UPS, four of them he received brand new.
The semi he now drives he shares with another driver. It was new when they were assigned it four years ago and already has 550,000 miles on the odometer.
Peterson offers some advice for getting people to add you to their circle of trust when you’re behind the wheel:
- Keep a safe distance around you: “Leave yourself an out, an escape route,” he said.
- Don’t drive too close to the front or back of semi trucks.
“We like to leave lots of space cushion between us and cars,” he said. “That’s the last thing you want to do as a driver. … run over someone in a car.”
- Don’t allow yourself to be a distracted driver. Save reading, eating, cell phones, and yes, computers, for when you’re parked.
“As truck drivers, we see it daily. We can glance down into vehicles and see how preoccupied people are with their cell phones, I’ve even experienced people on their computer,” he said.
- And make sure your lights are on in bad weather.
Peterson figures that he and his wife will retire at the same time in 2020.
When he rides off into the sunset, he expects to continue racking up miles.
He enjoys snowmobiling, mini bikes, jet skis and pontoon boating.
He also owns a three-wheeled motorcycle he picked up two years ago. He already has 20,000 miles on it.
And he’ll also look on his UPS windshield time with pride.
“Being at UPS, it’s been a good ride,” Peterson said.