Western Express driver Duane Dornath has achieved the milestone of driving 4 million consecutive miles without a preventable accident. Four million miles-the equivalent of driving from Los Angeles to New York 1,428 times. And, these 4 million miles were driven in a semi-tractor-trailer, without a single preventable accident.
Quickly, approaching his 38th year as a professional truck driver, Dornath is also nearing his 34th anniversary with the company, having started with Smithway Motor Xpress on May 13, 1979. He was hired by Smithway as a full-time company driver and has been employed there since, including the past six years after Western Express purchased Smithway in October 2007. The companies combined operationally in July 2009.
With the launch of a new Western Express Driver Recognition Program, Dornath was named February 2013 Driver of the Month and is eligible for the 2013 Western Express Driver of the Year Award. Dornath was previously selected 2007 Driver of the Year while still operating under the Smithway Motor Xpress name.
"Western Express has always treated me well," said Dornath. "Since taking over from Smithway, I still run my same schedule and route. My driver manager, Joe McLimans, treats me very well and works very hard at keeping me loaded."
Dornath reminisced, "I began driving fresh out of high school; I liked the freedom it gave me each day - and still do."
McLimans, terminal manager of the Fort Dodge Western Express location, is one of eight former SMX employees still based in Fort Dodge, after most other corporate functions were transferred to headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Western Express employs close to 3,000 people nationwide, which includes almost 2,700 professional truck drivers
Currently, Dornath is a flatbed driver. On a typical day, he hauls wallboard from Fort Dodge to Oakdale, Minn., and then usually re-loads some type of building materials from the Minneapolis area back to Fort Dodge or central Iowa.
According to Dornath, "a professional driver's biggest responsibility is to the motoring public. Each and every day, doing the job safely. Being fully aware how many lives can be changed with any kind of accident."
Dornath's advice to younger and new drivers is: "Be patient. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Always take the time to do things in a safe manner. Ask for help. Offer help. I'll help anyone who asks. It doesn't matter what company you work for, we are all in this together. Everyone needs to work together."
"Four million miles, 38 years without an accident is an extraordinary accomplishment," said Steve Birkle, vice president of safety at Western Express corporate headquarters "We are extremely proud to have professional, safe drivers like Duane, and we congratulate him on his achievement."
Dornath and wife of 29 years, Mary, live on an acreage south of Fort Dodge.
They have four adult children and two granddaughters.