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Two local truckers recognized for millions of miles of safe driving

It would take the average driver approximately 148 years to log 2 million miles in their vehicle. Tom Lyons has done it in about 20.

That’s like driving to the moon and back more than four times.

Con-way Freight, a freight transportation company with a terminal in the City of Tonawanda, recently recognized Lyons for his extensive travel without an accident.

But the Lockport resident is not the only driver at the Con-way terminal to hit more than 1 million miles. David May of West Seneca has driven more than 1 million miles without incident with Con-way, adding to the 1 million he drove with another company when he first started driving a truck for a living 33 years ago.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” noted Brett Thompson, a Con-way service center manager, “especially in a city environment where it’s your actions as well as everyone else’s.”

May, who has been with Con-way for 16 years, has made it to the national truck driver championship seven times. He’s preparing to test his skills again today and Saturday in Syracuse in the state championship held by the New York State Motor Truck Association. The competition includes parallel parking, backing into alleys and truck inspections.

To enter the competition, drivers must be accident-free for a year. Although May and Lyons have that qualification beat by decades, Lyons decided not to attend the statewide competition.

Lyons’ shift starts at 7 p.m. and lasts 11 hours. His typical route takes him to Lordstown, Ohio, hauling a double-trailer, and back.

Trucking is not a job that attracts young people, he said, describing his colleagues as “a bunch of old men.” After his 20th year with Con-way, he said “it doesn’t get any easier.” He can go hours on the road without seeing another driver. It gets lonely, and he said the worst part is being away from his wife, Rosemary, and their children.

When Lyons is on the road, he said he is “all business 100 percent of the time.” He was recognized for never getting even a scratch on his truck, which in the trucking industry is considered an incident.

“Once you make contact, it’s considered an accident,” May said.

From their decades of experience, both have noticed what a dramatic increase in distracted driving. They’re alarmed by the number of people they see texting while on the roads.

Con-way’s Tonawanda location has 97 drivers. Besides May and Lyons, one other driver has made the million-mile club, according to Thompson. Companywide, Con-way has recognized 1,639 drivers for reaching 1 million safe miles and 204 drivers for reaching the 2 million mark. It employs more than 20,000 drivers in the United States and Canada.

The drivers reached their staggering mile marks within a few days of each other. Con-way surprised the drivers by bringing their families to the truck facility for a celebratory breakfast. The men sport new uniforms with embroidered sleeves and jackets that state they are “distinguished” million-mile drivers. Con-way also presented them with plaques and personal parking spots.