David M. White knows a thing or two about how to safely drive large trucks and their rigs.

The 49-year-old New Franklin resident, a married father of two girls, has been accident-free the last 12 years he’s been with the Green terminal of YRC Worldwide subsidiary USF Holland, in large part because he keeps up on his driving skills. He’s been a truck driver for 22 years.

Those skills have made him a champion the last two years in the annual Ohio Truck Driving Championships skills and knowledge competition; this year’s event involved 180 drivers with rigs inside the I-X Center in Cleveland.

His win in the tanker division qualifies him for the National Truck Driving Championships Aug. 7-11 in Minneapolis, Minn., where he’ll be competing again in the truck-tanker class.

“This is my third time competing,” White said. Only drivers who have been accident-free for at least a year can enter the competition.

The program sharpens skills and provides good fellowship with other drivers, he said. White, a member of Teamsters Local 24, said he regularly practices with a group of drivers from the Greater Akron and Cleveland areas.

The competitions are fun, White said.

“I enjoy it. I go in there to have fun,” he said.

The two-day competitions involve taking a multiple-choice exam that covers numerous aspects of trucking, from operating a vehicle to safety to history, White said.

The driving portion includes being judged on how well a person can maneuver a large tractor with a rig or tanker into tight spots, he said.

No one is allowed to use his or her own truck, White said.

“I normally drive a Volvo, an ’08 Volvo tractor,” he said.

But he has had to compete using unfamiliar trucks such Kenworth or Peterbilt brands, he said. “Whatever comes up — you jump right in. You just do your best.”

Parking a large truck with attached tanker into tight spaces doesn’t intimidate him, White said. “I take pride in maneuvering the truck in tight spaces,” he said.

That’s a necessary skill when it comes to getting into and out of truck docks and parking areas, he said.

White said he likes his job, which often involves driving overnight to Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., Fort Wayne, Ind., and other destinations.

“I leave any given night,” he said.

Over his career, White said, he has hauled automotive parts, heavy equipment and liquids.

When he’s home, White said, he spends time with his family and gets involved with his church. He’s also a regular American Red Cross blood donor.

Anyone driving car or light truck on the road should give truck drivers space — and a thumbs up, White said.

“Those guys out there are moving America,” he said. “The American trucker is a vital, important part of the economy. We fill the grocery stores, the hardware stores, everywhere you look.”

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com.