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Bowman appreciates its drivers

August 23, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT - Ray Sweitzer is proud to wear his green-striped white D.M. Bowman driver's shirt.

"I think that Bowman has a better reputation than a lot of other companies" when it comes to driving legally and safely on the highways, said Sweitzer, 27, of Williamsport.

Company drivers and officials at the Bowman Terminal on Governor Lane Boulevard were stressing the importance of safety and trying to dispel the public image of truckers as reckless and rude on Friday as part of the second annual National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

Bowman, which employs about 550 drivers at 11 terminals east of the Mississippi River, has had 5.25 accidents per million miles this year, company officials said.

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The company has had 0.3 accidents per million miles this year that resulted in injury or having the vehicle towed, said Mike Buracker, vice president of safety.

The last driver death occurred in 1994 when the driver was run over by a forklift while picking up a load at another facility, Buracker said. The forklift came around the corner of the trailer, he said.

A Bowman driver hasn't died on the road since the late 1980s, he said.

"Everything is based on safety here," said Buracker.

On the back of every Bowman truck there is a toll-free number for other drivers to call with complaints or concerns about company drivers - 1-800-326-3274, said spokesman Matt Donegan. Several trucks also have diagrams on the back showing the location of truck drivers' blind spots.

Truck safety on the road not only involves the truck drivers, but also nearby drivers who need to give truck drivers room to stop or slow down, said driver and trainer Valy Enciu.

"We have a pretty good system to keep safety on the road," Enciu said.

Sweitzer went through a 10-week course, six weeks of on-the-road training and has been tested twice with senior drivers along on overnight trips in the two years he's been with Bowman, he said.

"I think that the public's perception of truck drivers is not so good right now," Sweitzer said. He attributed part of truck drivers bad reputations to movies that stereotype them as brutes who run people off the road.

"I would like to say that truck drivers are very good, kind people who provide a service to the public," he said.

Drivers who pull along side a truck shouldn't be afraid to wave hello to truck drivers, Sweitzer said.

"It's nice to know there are people that are out there that care," he said.

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