ATA Honors 2013 Professional Excellence Award Winner

by Jana Ritter - Published: 9/03/2013

Ralph Garcia, America's Road Team Captain and professional truck driver for ABF Freight System, Inc., received the Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award at the American Trucking Associations' 2013 National Truck Driving Championships for best exemplifying what it means to be a professional truck driver. Garcia also took home first place honors in the 4-axle division.


A resident of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Garcia has been behind the wheel for 35 years and has over 3.5 million accident-free miles. After placing first at the New Mexico Trucking Association state truck driving championships, Garcia has moved on to compete in 16 National Truck Driving Championships, taking third place in 2003; second place in 2009; and in 2013 becoming the national champion in the 4-axle division.

Garcia's stellar professionalism has also earned him the White House Champion of Change title in 2011, the medal of excellence from the Lincoln Highway Society and along with being a Captain on America's Road Team; he is a member of the ABF Freight System, Inc.'s Road Team as well.

The Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award is sponsored by C.H. Robinson and recognizes a driver judged to best exemplify the characteristics of a professional truck driver. The criteria is based on their driving record, skill, knowledge, attitude toward safety, and personality as evidenced by their work history and performance in various NTDC skills tests and overall professionalism. Contestants for the award must have competed at seven or more National Truck Driving Championships.

Garcia's attitude towards his role as a truck driver exemplifies the qualities driving his success. "As a professional driver, I have the privilege of being on our highways each day and delivering our goods to the country," Garcia said. "Keeping our highways safe is my number one priority and being able to share my experience with the public and those in the trucking industry, is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. To have the opportunity to compete at the National Truck Driving Championships is a great honor and this year to be recognized with the Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award, is a humbling experience," Garcia added.

Garcia teaches future truck drivers about safety and continues to make an impact by educating teen drivers about sharing the road with trucks. An elder at Legacy Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Garcia has been married to wife Anita Armijo for 34 years and has three children and three grandchildren.

America's Road Team is a public outreach program, sponsored by Volvo Trucks, whose members speak around the country about highway safety.

ATA's National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships include top professional truck drivers from around the United States competing at company, state and regional levels to make it to the national competition