SALISBURY, Md. — Perdue Farms truck driver Alvin Smith of Robersonville, N.C., logged four million consecutive, accident-free miles driving professionally for Perdue. He's the first company driver to achieve the milestone — the equivalent of approximately 160 trips around the Earth.
"It's an honor driving trucks,” Smith said. “Before each trip, I check the map and plan the first stop. I check everything to make sure it is ready to go. I pray. I really believe in the power of prayer and also getting yourself prepared before each trip.”
Smith, 63, started driving for Perdue in 1982 and averages about 110,000 miles a year. His competitive nature motivates him to keep going. Many of his co-workers have asked if he will try for five million miles.
"I say, well, ‘I don't know,’ but I am pretty competitive," Smith said, "so I just might. If you really work at it, you can do a million miles in about six years, so I probably could get to five million."
Smith is part of Perdue's roster of 350 professional truck drivers. There have been 170 Perdue drivers who have reached one million accident-free miles; 52 are two million safe-mile drivers; and seven have achieved three million accident-free miles. Smith stands alone as the first in Perdue's four-million-mile club.
"Our Perdue drivers are important ambassadors for our brands and company,” said Richard Hernandez, vice president of transportation and warehousing for Perdue Farms. “Besides seeing our customers on a regular basis, drivers of our Perdue tractors and trailers drive 35 million miles a year feeding America. What impresses me most about Alvin is a combination of his professionalism and down-to-earth approach. Alvin brings instant credibility to every conversation and situation because everyone knows that he has seen or done it and that he knows exactly what it takes to be successful. Imagine someone with all of this experience who is also an excellent listener and mentor.
Hernandez added: "Alvin is the best of the best. He didn't wake up one day and decide to be successful. He put the time and energy in day after day combined with a 'can-do' attitude for so many years."
First Sgt. Christopher Knox of North Carolina Department of Public Safety and State Highway Patrol congratulated Smith on his milestone.
“This achievement is a testament to the many professional drivers of commercial motor vehicles we have on our roadways,” Knox said. “This feat is not one to be taken lightly. There are lives at stake when operating a vehicle on the roadways and especially vehicles that are larger in size and weight. His commitment to safety most undoubtedly was done so with intention — avoiding speeding, distractions, and impairment have been conscious decisions each time he got behind the wheel. We are so proud of him for this impressive accomplishment and congratulate him on a job well done.”
Smith started driving for the former Perdue plant in his hometown of Robersonville, N.C. For 15 years, he drove from Robersonville to Emporia, Va., and back, about 180 miles daily.
“I really enjoyed those local trips because I would make the same stops and go through the same towns,” said Smith. “There was one bus stop that I would pass each day. The kids would get excited to see me and would wave. I feel like I got to know those kids. I got to see them grow up at that bus stop for 15 years.”
Smith also knows the restaurant staff at his regular stops. “You can have some great conversations at little general stores and small restaurants while you are driving truck,” he said. “I have gotten to know so many people during my driving. It's always fun when you get to make that stop and catch up with someone.”
After the Robersonville plant closed, Smith started driving out of the company's plant in Lewiston, N.C. His routes have taken him across the East Coast. He believes he has seen every state and many towns east of the Mississippi.
At home, Smith stays busy with his wife, Cathy at Grace Family Fellowship, their Pentecostal church. They have a son, a daughter and two grandchildren. Smith enjoys working in his garden, deer hunting and watching NASCAR.
Driving runs in Smith's family. His father and two of his brothers have driven trucks as careers. His father drove for more than 30 years.
“It's a great career,” Smith said. “I always tell people: If you want to see the world, join the military. But if you want to see our country, become a trucker. It's a job that I love, and I hope to continue doing it for as long as I can.”