Young drives 1.5 million miles without an accident

 Al Young was recognized by his employer, Ashley Furniture, for logging in 1.5 million safe miles, as an over-the-road truck driver.
Staff Writer

Sometimes driving around town without having an accident isn't easy, but West Point native Al Young has driven 1.5 million miles as an over-the-road truck driver for Ashley Furniture in Ecru, without an accident.

"I started driving when I was 19-years-old," Young said. "I worked for Bryan Foods for 30 years, from 1976, until 2006. I logged in a million safe miles with them during that time. I went from Bryan to drive for Ashley Furniture."

Young was recognized for 1 million safe miles with Ashley Furniture in 2014. He has logged an additional 500,000 more miles without an accident since then.

"You have to drive defensively," Young said "You have to be watching all around you. And weather is another factor, Over the road truck drivers have to be able to drive in snow, ice, rain, tornados, hurricanes, all kinds of weather. I try to drive safely, not only for myself, but for the other people on the road too."

Ashley Furniture held a banquet recently and awarded Young with a plaque and a diamond watch for his outstanding safety record.

"Ashley Furniture gave me a diamond ring for 1 million miles," Young said. "This time they added a diamond to the ring, gave me a diamond watch and a plaque. It makes you want to continue doing your best when they reward you for doing a good job."

Young began driving a truck right after graduating from West Point High School and went to work for Bryan Foods. He said if they hadn't closed, he would have been happy to stay at Bryan until he retired.

"You have to be flexible, open to change and ready to learn," Young said. "The change over to E-logs for the transportation industry has made a big change in how we drive. After so many miles and hours on the road, we have to take a break. No exceptions. I think that has done a lot toward making the road safer. I did short, local runs for Bryan. But I go everywhere in the U.S. except for California now."

Young said his family had to become accustomed to his being gone more while working for Ashley. He tries to do three or four long hauls every week.

"It isn't all about the miles," Young said. "There's a lot more to it. I have to leave and arrive for delivery on time. I am courteous and respectful to our customers. I always treat people the way I want them to treat me. I learned that at Bryan and it has stayed with me my whole life. Some of these young drivers, the ones who are just getting started in their career as a truck driver, need to learn those lessons. Leaving and arriving on time is important."

He said safety is always on his mind. He knows what can happen if an eighteen wheeler hits a small car. He said the truck always wins and the car and its driver may not make it. He also said for drivers to be aware when the big trucks are close by and give them plenty of room. Respect for everyone on the road is the key to being safe.

"I know people think that folks drive crazy here in town," Young said. "But people drive crazy everywhere. That's why I am always aware of the vehicles around me. Yeah, I know how to drive, but that doesn't mean everyone else does. I'm always watching in all directions."

Young has lived in West Point his entire life and had appreciated the opportunity to drive all over the country and see places he may have never seen if he had chosen a different career path.

"I've seen most of the United States," Young said. "But I'm always glad to come home to West Point. I've seen a lot of big cities, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, New York, but I love West Point the best. I'm always glad to come back home."