Pa. hauler honored for driving record

May 10, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - For more than four decades, Loy McEldowney has been on the road, hauling 20 tons of concrete at a time to job sites around the region, covering those hundreds of thousands of miles without an accident.

The 67-year-old St. Thomas, Pa., man was one of eight Valley Quarries drivers with 241 years of accident-free driving recognized earlier this year at the company's annual Safety Banquet. A low-key, steady sort of fellow, he had some simple advice for staying on the road and out of ditches:

"Obey those signs when you see them."

McEldowney joined Valley Quarries in 1960 as a "batch man," loading cement trucks. After a hitch in the U.S. Army, he came back and has been driving a cement mixer for more than 41 years.

"I'll take six more like him, if you can find them," said Terry Czap, the dispatch manager for Valley Quarries Ready Mix plant. "They're a rare breed anymore."


McEldowney, who has never had an accident in any of his personal vehicles, either, said he did not have any idea how many miles he drives in a year, or over the past 41 years.

"He's worn out quite a few trucks," Czap said. Concrete is a "two-hour commodity" so most of the deliveries are within relatively short distances from the plant during the spring, summer and fall, Czap said.

A look at one driver's log for a year, however, showed several thousand miles racked up.

Being an experienced and safety-conscious driver is important, but McEldowney conceded that luck has played a role in his crash-free career. While technology has made the trucks safer, other factors have made the roads more difficult to navigate, this King of the Road said.

"The brake system is one of the better things that have improved over the years," said McEldowney. Brakes are pretty important when piloting about 15 tons of truck loaded with 20 tons of concrete.

On the other hand, the local roads have gotten more crowded, he said.

"You've really got to be alert out there today. It's not like it was 41 years ago," he said. "People aren't as courteous as they were before ... I'll guarantee it."

McEldowney and his wife, Dorothy, have three children - Loy Jr., Lisa and Troy. Although he is past the age when he could be sitting back collecting pension and Social Security checks, he plans to keep driving as long as his health permits.

"I was off six months with my shoulder and I was never so glad to come back" to work, he said.

Among the other Valley Quarries drivers honored for long years of accident-free service were James E. Johns with 34 years; Donald L. Durf with 29 years; Douglas E. Shatzer, Larry A. Fritz, Eric L. Boyd and Gary L. Baer, all with 28 years; and Randy Shew with 25 years.

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