Drivewyze’s 2022 National Truck Driver Appreciation Contest Winner
Perseverance of a Trucker
We know that the way to encourage safer driving behaviors on roads across North America is to recognize and celebrate the drivers who already do it so well. They are the frontline leaders showcasing what it means to be a great trucker. That’s why, each year, Drivewyze holds a contest to celebrate them for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.
The contest, which has become a tradition for Drivewyze, recognizes drivers with a particular focus on safety and care. It came as no surprise to us that we received many highly deserving entries, including drivers that have excelled in Truck Driving Championship competitions and one who was recognized for his volunteer work with Wreaths Across America.
Armando is a true veteran of the road with over 20 years of experience. His colleagues know him for his hard work, dedication, and unmatched resilience. With 20 years of pavement behind him, Armando has accomplished a lot, including getting his 500,000, one, two, and three million Safe Mile Awards.
Despite the heavy competition, the winner, as voted on by our followers, was… Armando Sanchez!
Unfortunately, Armando has also experienced the dangers that come with the profession.
A Trucker by Chance
As a young graphic designer, Armando discovered that working behind a desk didn’t fulfill his ambitious needs. Looking for a change, he attended a truck driver recruiting event he had read about in the newspaper. “I was looking for something new and getting tired of sitting at a desk,” he explained. After successfully completing the interview process, Armando was hired as a professional truck driver for CalArk International in 1998. Armando revealed, “at the time, I didn’t think I’d have such a long-time career [in trucking] but as I got more knowledge about the [trucking] business, I ended up staying.”
His newfound profession had its upsides, as he would soon discover. “I was just enjoying driving all over the place,” he said. Armando quickly became accustomed to his new trucker life. Over the years, he has hauled a wide variety of goods across the United States with his dry van. “Back in the day, I loved to drive through Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and upstate New York. The scenery is so gorgeous with the forests, rivers, and lakes,” Armando recalled. In 2003, he became an independent contractor for Central Hauling, a subsidiary of CalArk International.
A Driver’s Worst Nightmare
On November 3, 2017, Armando was involved in a horrific traffic accident. He delivered a load in Tennessee and headed back home to Arkansas. “It was kind of drizzly, wet road conditions and a [passenger vehicle] cut me off, hitting my right-side bumper. I was pulling 43,000 lbs. in my dry van. I lost control after the impact, went off the road and ended up under a bridge,” he recalled. Armando sustained severe injuries to his legs, left shoulder, and face.
While he was lucky to be alive, his doctors told him that his chances of a full recovery were slim. “They told me that I would never be able to do things like I was doing them before. That I would never be back to 100%.”
The Road to Recovery
The road to recovery was lengthy and challenging. Armando had to undergo 10 surgeries over a period of three years to repair the damage to his legs, left shoulder, and face. His facial injuries were so severe that he needed reconstructive surgery on his eye socket. Following the procedures, Armando’s recovery was accompanied by extensive physiotherapy. But giving up was not an option. He was ready to preserve and defy the odds. “I wanted to prove them [the doctors] wrong, and I did,” said Armando.
By the end of 2019, he was back in the driver’s seat. “It was hard to go back, and I looked at different options. But with so many years under my belt, I felt none of the options seemed right.” That’s when Armando approached the company’s executives, who offered support. He was assigned a dedicated route closer to home, which empowered him to continue his career and accommodated his ongoing recovery.
Life After the Accident
Armando’s resilience and determination during his recovery process paid off. He fully recovered from his injuries, even though some scars and discomfort remain. The unexpected focus on his health brought forth a new passion of his: bodybuilding. He started actively competing in bodybuilding competitions in 2021. “I often get approached by other drivers while pulling into a truck stop and they’re asking me how I’m doing it. And the best advice I can give is to prioritize your health. Use your breaks to exercise, drink plenty of water and make healthy choices whenever you can,” said Armando.
While Armando never imagined that being a trucker would become his lifelong profession, he continues to excel in his career. “He [Armando] is extremely dependable and his level of professionalism and hard work is considered top tier. His dedication is a great inspiration for all of us,” said Bobby McElyea, vice president of truckload operations with CalArk, who nominated Armando for the contest.
Armando offered one last piece of advice to other truckers: “be responsible, be alert, and know your limits. If you don’t feel secure or safe don’t do the dispatch.”
Share Armando’s story to empower other driver’s on their journeys.
If you liked reading about Armando’s story, check out our past Drivewyze National Truck Driver Appreciation Week contest winners: