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The Chosen Few

By on May 1, 2017

Meet the 2017 Citizen Driver Honorees

Following in the footsteps of the 21 Citizen Driver Honorees
who preceded them in 2014, 2015 and 2016, the five stars from the Class of 2017 have been shining brightly in their professional and personal lives for many years. On the following pages, you’ll meet them close up and learn about their exemplary representation of your industry in citizenship, safety, community involvement, leadership, and health and wellness.

Perhaps you can compare your own career accomplishments in relation to the averages recorded by this distinguished group:

  • 39.4 years of service
  • 106,000 annual miles
  • 3.08 million accident-free miles
  • Awards and good deeds, too many to mention
  • To a person, these difference makers have:
  • Turned first jobs into careers
  • Paid the kindnesses shown to them forward many times over
  • Set high professional and personal standards as examples for others
  • Demonstrated courtesy and respect for everyone they encounter

While humbled by being named 2017 Citizen Driver Honorees, they stand tall and can be very proud of their contributions to the successes of their families, companies, co-workers, customers and communities. Should you happen to meet them along the way, be sure to extend your congratulations!



Carl Junction, Missouri
A & A Express, Inc.
TA Marty Ellis Rogers Travel Center (MN)

Marty Ellis credits his father-in-law, who was a commercial beekeeper, with teaching him the ropes of driving a semi. A 10-wheel tractor with a pup trailer was used to haul bee colonies from the family’s clover honey-making operation in South Dakota to California. The bees wintered there and provided a second income by pollinating almond groves before returning home. Along the way, Marty learned safe driving practices and also gained respect for proper truck maintenance.

“Another 100 names should be going up with mine at TA Rogers.”

Marty was not a kid who said he wanted to be a professional truck driver. When seeking life beyond beekeeping, his CDL provided an entrée into the trucking industry. He was simply looking for a way to earn a living at that point. He has remained with A & A Express, Inc. since signing on 23 years ago. He and his wife, Deb, moved from South Dakota to just outside Joplin, Missouri during 2001. In 23 years, he can count on one hand the times A & A couldn’t get him where he needed to be for key family and volunteer events.

Three years ago, Marty found himself in a position many other drivers before him have experienced. When his weight reached 375 pounds, Marty said enough was enough. At age 50, he started doing two things: eating better and exercising. He found inspiration in the Paleo diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafoods, healthy fats, and nuts and seeds.

Three years later, Marty tipped the scales at 215. In the process, he developed a special appreciation for the space many TA-Petro locations dedicate to exercise rooms, walking trails and other outdoor activities, as well as the emphasis placed on StayFit® food options available in the restaurants and travel stores. He typically walks two miles every day, and some days logs three or four. That helps make up for days when schedules limit his time for walking.

In His Own Words

“When I started, I didn’t want to be called a truck driver,” said Marty. “I just drove a truck for a living. But I quickly realized; if I was going to become part of this industry, I needed to get involved and find ways to give back. I also learned there are lots of dedicated drivers who have driven millions of safe miles and devoted decades to this profession. The difference is what drivers do in their off time.

“I think this idea of recognizing those who go beyond simply driving a truck is genius. What other part of the industry does this? The process is well conceived. Just to be nominated blew me away. It’s almost unreal. There’s only going to be a limited number of drivers with their names on TA-Petro truckstops. Whether in the cab or on my personal time, so many people have helped me along the way. I feel I’m accepting this honor on their behalf. Another 100 names should be going up with mine at TA Rogers.”

Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • 23-year professional driving career
  • 135,000 annual miles
  • 3.27 million career miles
  • 2.8 million accident-free miles
  • Served in Army
  • South Dakota Trucking Association (SDTA)
  • 4X Driving Champion
  • Champions Club VP & President, 2 yrs each
  • Safe Driver of the Year Award
  • 2X Driver of the Month
  • Convoy & Truck Show – Special Olympics
  • Raised funds for scholarships
  • Senior member of OOIDA
  • Women in Trucking member
  • American Truck Historical Society member
  • Supporter of Missouri Special Olympics
  • St. Christopher Driven to be Healthy Challenge
  • Involved supporting charity poker tournaments
  • Ordained as a Reverend



Camden, Arkansas
IBI Secured Transport, Inc.
Petro Idella M. Hansen North Little Rock Stopping Center (AR)

Just 18 years old when she started driving for her family’s business, Idella Hansen shows no signs of stopping 48 years later. She is the epitome of professionalism in all aspects of her career, has a very strong work ethic, and received high praise from her employers over the years. She leads by example, and is always well dressed on the road, down to her polished nails and signature red boots.

“My first thought was how in the world did the judges select me?”

Idella applies hard work to face challenges head on, welcomes new experiences, and rises to the occasion in serving customer needs. Her ability and dedication have earned the respect of fellow drivers. She is a strong proponent for the profession in general, and women drivers in particular.

Putting everything into all she does, Idella seemingly does everything. On the road, she has driven for companies, owned and run her own, and three years ago, signed on with her current employer in a job she truly loves. She strongly believes in giving back, and does so on a grand scale, actively volunteering with numerous professional and community organizations and with her church. If she sees a need, sooner or later, Idella and her Southern charm will take up the cause.

People can count on Idella to be a productive, strong and vocal member in everything she does by staying active and making sure goals are met. She works extensively with new and prospective drivers of both genders, giving them a fine example to follow and encouraging them to pass along the help they have received. She readily shares her wealth of knowledge in online forums covering a wide range of topics. With a renewed focus on health and wellness after recently dropping 40 pounds, Idella encourages other drivers to do the same.

In Her Own Words 

“I was very reluctant at making a second attempt to become a TA-Petro Citizen Driver. It came down to the last day, and now I’m so glad that I was nominated a second time. Can you believe it? Out of the whole United States, there’s fewer than two dozen who’ve previously received this high honor. When notified, my first thought was how in the world did the judges select me? Just being a 2016 finalist was more than I could possibly ask for. Hopefully, I can encourage others to accept a nomination for 2018 and beyond.

“I’m impressed with TA-Petro’s dedication to promoting drivers and with their efforts to encourage driver health and wellness. They are to be congratulated for their full range of amenities including walking trails and exercise rooms. They’ve done a great job with the people they hire and the training they receive. In the overall scheme of things, I really see them trying to improve the lives of professional drivers. I’m so very proud to have my name installed on the Petro North Little Rock marquee.”

Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • 48-year professional driving career
  • 125,000 annual miles
  • 5.0 million career miles
  • 1.0 million accident-free miles
  • Citizenship Award in Camden, Arkansas
  • Safety awards from Prescolite
  • Safety Director for Biggers Trucking
  • REAL Women in Trucking  (RWIT) member
  • RWIT Board member
  • RWIT Treasurer
  • 1st Annual Lady Truck Driver Cruise
  • Life member of OOIDA
  • Women in Trucking charter member
  • Board member for Operation Roger
  • Truckers Christmas Group
  • Trucker Charity & Last Ride Home
  • Parking Coalition (FMSCA & OOIDA)
  • St. Christopher Driven to be Healthy Challenge
  • Won the 2016 MATS to GATS Get Healthy Award



Evan "Buddy" HastonEVAN “BUDDY” HASTON

North Richland Hills, Texas
National Carriers, Inc. (NCI)
Petro Evan “Buddy” Haston Amarillo Stopping Center (TX)

Buddy Haston is a solid citizen, and truly one of the Knights of the Highway. He is involved in his community, church and workplace, and is frequently the plumb line by which others are measured. His trucking career began as a dispatcher over 50 years ago, and quickly evolved to include part time driving on weekends. He liked being behind the wheel so well that he decided to turn professional truck driving into his lifelong career.

After being proactive about seeking opportunities to advance his career with some quality companies, Buddy signed on with National Carriers 28 years ago. Things were a bit bumpy at first. He drove a truck for an owner-operator for a couple of months before acquiring his own truck. He didn’t like running to the Eastern Seaboard, and switched to Western runs when NCI opened a Dallas terminal. That evolved into an opportunity to handle refrigerated deliveries to five states surrounding Texas. One-way trips from 300 to 800 miles are typical over the course of two or three days. He has maintained this schedule while upgrading Peterbilt models 10 times during his years with NCI.

Speaking about Petro Amarillo, “It’s my home away from home.”

Throughout his career, Buddy has established a standard of excellence and integrity, which have influenced many others. He has an ever-present smile and is always neat, clean and positive. Buddy is quick to put the needs of others first, lending assistance physically, spiritually and/or financially as circumstances dictate. His many accomplishments have been achieved with God, country and family as his guideposts. His wife, Naomi, handles the accounting and paperwork for their business.

Buddy has dedicated his life to the transportation industry and leads by example. He’s more of a “Do-as-I-do” type of leader, rather than a “gung-ho” cheerleader. When asked for advice about operations, safety and maintenance, he readily volunteers his seasoned opinion. Last year, he volunteered to lead a drivers’ Better Choices Initiative designed to encourage better health and longer life. Buddy is a great example of someone who has spent a lifetime making the right choices.

In His Own Words

“I’m really proud to be recognized as a Citizen Driver Honoree. Just being nominated and considered last year was an honor. I’m grateful that I was nominated for consideration again this year. It means a lot to me to be selected from a field of highly qualified applicants. Many have similar qualifications, perhaps some even better. I accept this honor as an indication that I’ve held myself to high standards in both my professional and personal lives.

I’m also proud to have my name connected to Petro Amarillo. I usually stop there two or three times every week. To a person, the staff is really great. They greet me by name. We talk about families, kids and grandkids. They watch out for me, even make menu or substitution suggestions to make sure that I’m eating healthy. They’re concerned about me and my wellbeing. It’s my home away from home.”

Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • 51-year professional driving career
  • 120,000 annual miles
  • 6.0 million career miles
  • 6.0 million accident-free miles
  • Served in Army
  • 3X Driver of the Month, Harris Corp.
  • #1 Driver of the Year, Arthur Machinery
  • 3X NCI Driver of the Month
  • NCI “Top Gun” Award for Safe Driving
  • NCI Certificate of Excellence (driver review)
  • Helped NCI with recruiting initiatives
  • Better Choices Initiative (health & fitness)
  • Very involved in his church
  • Considers the road his “mission field”



Plover, Wisconsin
D&G Transportation
TA Dick Pingel madison Travel Center (WI)

Dick is passionate about the trucking industry and cares deeply about the welfare of the professional driver community. Throughout his career as an owner-operator, he has devoted a considerable amount of personal time to making a difference for experienced drivers, as well as those just starting out. He works tirelessly with several Wisconsin and national organizations to provide a voice for all professional drivers. As an OOIDA Board member, Dick has testified before Congress, and he makes annual trips to our nation’s Capitol with the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association to meet with elected officials and their staff members.

“It takes a special person to be married to a truck driver.”

Dick’s personable and easy-going style blends well with his passion for addressing issues that impact the health of the trucking industry as a whole and the lives of individual professional drivers. His impeccable record makes him a very credible spokesperson for anything and everything involving safety. He has been a mentor to many through various affiliations that promote the importance of driver safety.

When Dick is working, and many times when he’s not, you’ll see him proudly wearing a D&G logo shirt. It’s part of the professional image that he projects in serving customers and performing his duties. He takes pride in his work and talks up the trucking industry and the driving profession with those he meets, both inside and outside the industry. As you would expect, he’s a dedicated family man and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren when at home.

Dick’s spirit of service to the trucking community has been an inspiration to many. He exemplifies core American values of hard work, honesty and the camaraderie some think is lacking in today’s trucking world. Dick is an excellent mentor for those considering professional driving careers or making their first forays into the world of trucking.

In His Own Words

“Just to become a finalist last year was a great honor. I was pretty much thinking one and done. Just before this year’s deadline, I reluctantly agreed to be nominated again. Having gone through the process last year, I realize there’s more to becoming a finalist than someone might think. Obviously, I’m thankful I stuck with it. Becoming a Citizen Driver is a big deal. Only a few drivers have achieved this recognition so far out of 3.5 million Class A CDL holders.

“It’s great that TA-Petro is focusing attention on drivers who are role models, certainly within, but also outside the industry. While there’s a great deal of industry emphasis on safe driving, the requirements for becoming a Citizen Driver take into account so many factors beyond the time we spend behind the wheel. This award also encompasses family and lifestyle considerations that are so critical to developing a fulfilling professional career. We should always remember—it takes a special person to be married to a truck driver.”

Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • 41-year professional driving career
  • 100,000 annual miles
  • 4.0 million career miles
  • 4.0 million accident-free miles
  • Lifetime member of OOIDA
  • OOIDA Board member
  • Charter member of Women in Trucking
  • Initiated employer Driver Advisory Board
  • Director, Wisconsin Freight Advisory Council
  • Town of Plover Planning & Zoning Committee
    and Comprehensive Planning Committee
  • Wisconsin Special Olympics Convoy
  • 2015 American Highway Hero Award
  • 22 years of employer Safe Driving Awards
  • OOIDA 23-year Safe Driving Award
  • Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association
    • (WMCA) President’s Safe Driver Club
    • WMCA annual Call on Washington


Farmington, New Mexico
Spiff Services – Truck Transport
San Juan College – CDL Examiner
TA Jim Wilcox Albuquerque Travel Center (NM)

With his dad in the industry for 55 years, Jim grew up around trucking. He really looked up to drivers and the jobs they do for our country. He knew that one day, driving a truck is what he wanted to do. Right after high school, Jim landed a job working the docks, loading and unloading trucks on the graveyard shift. He learned how to drive on the back lots during his own time. Working as a yard spotter gave him lots of backing experience before he started driving locally at age 21, which was just about the time deregulation hit.

Placed on layoff status, Jim kept his vision alive by driving, mostly on call, for Consolidated Freightways, PIE, NW Transport and ICX. After three years of uncertainty, Yellow opened a terminal in Durango, Colorado. Referred by his father, he was the first driver hired. Three feet of snow during his first month prompted him to think he’d made the biggest mistake of his life. His regular route involved the very scenic Million Dollar Highway, but also included three of Colorado’s seven runaway ramps. Surviving that first winter, he wound up retiring from Yellow 26 years later, with 31 years of Teamster service.

Wanting to stay active, Jim volunteered to help with state and national driving championships. He has also worked as a certified CDL examiner for New Mexico since 2010. In 2014, Spiff Services provided an opportunity to move show trucks and specialty vehicles for Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack, Freightliner and Western Star. Spiff is a small, family-run company that provided a dream job for someone enjoying semiretirement. Besides accumulating airline miles and driving new trucks point-to-point, he can accept or reject assignments based on other things happening in his
personal life.

In His Own Words

“Being a Citizen Driver honoree is not just about me and those honored to date. It’s really recognizing the contributions of hundreds of thousands of drivers who make our industry great every day by being good citizens in their personal lives and good representatives of their employers in their professional lives. Being able to highlight the many positives about drivers’ contributions to this industry makes this program so unique and so well respected. It’s a great honor just to be considered, and I’m thrilled to actually be selected. I feel I’ve been so fortunate in this industry
that I need to give back until my last

“I need to give back until my last breath.”

“TA-Petro deserves a lot of credit for sponsoring the Citizen Driver award, but it goes much deeper than that. They’re doing many good things in support of drivers’ health and wellness. Investments in fitness centers, walking trails, healthy menu options, articles in RoadKing magazine, and much more demonstrate a genuine concern for drivers’ wellbeing. The amenities stand head and shoulders above the rest. I’m thankful and very proud to be representing them any way I can.”

Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • 36-year professional driving career
  • 50,000 annual miles
  • 1.6 million career miles
  • 1.6 million accident-free miles
  • 2X New Mexico Driver of the Year
  • New Mexico Trucking Association Volunteer of Year
  • 2006 ATA National Driver of the Year
  • ATA vehicle pre-trip inspection judge
  • Toys for Tots transportation volunteer
  • America’s Road Team Captain
  • Yellow Transportation Road Team
  • TSA Highway Watch member
  • School bus driver training & evaluation
  • 8X state driving champion in 3 classes
  • Colorado Driving Championships Rookie of Year
  • Yellow Transportation Driver of the Year
  • Several Professional Excellence Awards
  • YRC Freight National Driver Hall of Fame
  • 2003 Yellow 20 Years Safe Driving Achievement

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