Drivers achieve safety milestones

Getting products out to customers is part of doing business and when it’s done safely that’s even better.

At Frito-Lay in Williamsport safety is a priority, including for drivers who travel many miles making the deliveries.

This year, four drivers achieved significant milestones – driving at least 1 million miles without a crash.

“Among the four you are looking at 7 million miles,” said Frito-Lay Traffic Manager Rick Clark. “In the industry it’s pretty rare.”

Ken Tallman reached 3 million miles and Rick Keller drove 2 million miles without an accident.

Two other drivers, Mark Liddick and Zane Staver, were accident-free for 1 million miles.

In recognition of their achievements, each was honored by the company earlier this year in Dallas, Texas.

Tallman, 61, of Jersey Shore, said there’s no real secret to safe driving. It’s just something that is stressed at the company.

He drives all over the Northeast and the Mid Atlantic region and as far west as Indiana.

One day he might be heading to Buffalo and the next day to Lynchburg, Va.

“Each place requires a different type of concentration. But you have to plan ahead,” he said. “The drivers in Cleveland are different than those in New York City. You have to have patience and skill.”

He often plans his trips to begin in Williamsport at midnight to ensure he encounters less traffic.

“The road is more peaceful at night,” he said.

Keller, 55, of Williamsport, said safety means staying alert and being aware of the surroundings.

Like Tallman, he likes to start his truck runs early in the morning – between midnight and 2 a.m.

He doesn’t like to drive in the big cities of New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. in the afternoon.

“I think winter time is one of the biggest challenges, dealing with the elements,” he said.

Road construction can present challenges as well.

Keller said if the weather is bad, he may decide to stay home rather than risk driving in hazardous conditions.

It’s better being safe than sorry.

“If I can’t be there today, I will be there tomorrow,” Tallman said.

Both men noted the amount of safety training the drivers receive at Frito-Lay.

Tallman said he teaches younger drivers how to maneuver the big rigs they drive.

“Right now, we are going through close quarters maneuvering. It helps reduce the amount of accidents,” he said. “I think it’s fun to teach the younger drivers how to do this.”

Clark noted the entire driver corps is focused on safety.

“We have a continuous ongoing safety program. There’s classroom training,” he said. “We do close quarters maneuvering.”

Overall, some two thirds of the drivers at Frito-Lay’s Willliamsport plant have reached 1 million miles without an accident.

In a week’s time, the average driver compiles about 2,500 miles on the road per day.

Tallman and Keller said they both enjoy their jobs.

Tallman noted he’s sort of his own boss.

“I don’t think I would want to do anything else. I have freedom, responsibility. I meet a lot of different people,” he said.

Keller said it’s getting out and seeing different things.

“You see the sun come up,” he said.

Added Tallman: “I love my job. I like to look out the windshield every day and see something different.”