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Local big-rig driver earns safety honor
by Bill Baldowski
June 04, 2014 02:50 PM | 2954 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
Con-Way freight truck driver Raleigh Barber checks the air in his tire.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal Con-Way freight truck driver Raleigh Barber checks the air in his tire.
If officials with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety had an award to recognize the safety record of a long-distance truck driver, they would be hard-pressed to find one more deserving than Douglasville resident Raleigh Barber.

The 48-year-old married father of an adult daughter, who has been a big rig driver for Con-way Freight for most of his 24 years with the company, has reached a safety milestone, surpassing two million driving miles without an accident or injury, according to company officials.

This represents more than 1,500 round trips from Atlanta to Miami without a mishap, they said. Barber started his career as a trucker driving 16-foot flatbeds. He now drives double-trailer rigs in round trips daily from the company’s Atlanta terminal to its Birmingham, Ala., station.

He credits his superb safety record to four elements.

“When I am behind the wheel, I make sure I remain alert, I remain patient and am always aware of what is going on around me on the road and have a way out to avoid any potential highway emergency,” he said.

These driving elements, which he called his “rules of the road,” came into play again just last week.

Barber was on I-20 headed east from Birmingham when a motorcyclist passed him at a speed he estimated at 75 miles per hour.

Seconds later, Barber came upon an accident as that cyclist had hit the back of another tractor-trailer.

“I was able to block two lanes to keep traffic away from the injured cyclist and the accident until police arrived,” he said.

Barber said the cyclist was injured but the accident could have been much worse.

His daily round trip to Birmingham, and the other requirements of big rig driving, has him on the road for more than eight hours daily.

He said that, in almost a quarter century of driving, he has never been involved in a highway traffic situation that scared him.

The one element that does cause him concern is the weather.

“I was stranded in Birmingham for three days during the ice storm we had in January,” he said.

Barber’s advice to anyone looking to drive big rigs is to always be safety-conscious and not be distracted.

“Being safe will get you home,” he said.

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