“Mission Accomplished”: Schneider National Driver Marks Four Million Accident-Free Miles Iowa’s Mark DeSotel Reaches Landmark Milestone
May 17, 2011
In 1976, Mark DeSotel first got behind the wheel of a Schneider National truck and embarked on the journey toward his own remarkable achievement. He didn’t know it then, but DeSotel’s first accident-free mile would be followed by 3,999,999 million more. In late 2010, DeSotel, a resident of Fairfax, Iowa, became just the third driver in company history to hit four million consecutive, accident-free miles.
Says DeSotel, “When I first hit one million miles, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. But the closer I got to four million, I started thinking that would really be something! When I learned I hit that number, I felt so good. I told myself, ‘Mission accomplished!’”
DeSotel attributes his safety and success to several factors:
• “I give myself plenty of time to get somewhere and always make sure I know where I am going. Accidents happen when you are in a hurry or get flustered. Prevent that from happening and you’ll prevent accidents.
• I take a lot of pride in the truck and take good care of it. When you care about how the truck looks, you are more motivated to avoid hitting something.
• I look a minimum of three times before completing any maneuver. Never assume anything!
• I think one in every 10 people are probably having a bad day, so it’s important to have patience.”
DeSotel joined Schneider on the heels of leaving his supervisory position at Quaker Oats. He quickly grew to love his new life on the open road, but marvels at how different the world was at the onset of his career.
“The job was really tough back then,” he reflects. “There were more hand unloads, and when you were ready for a new load, you’d find a row of pay phones and keep one phone in each ear so you’d have a better chance of getting through. Even then, you’d often be on hold for 60 to 90 minutes. Drivers today can’t imagine what the life was like back then. The equipment today is so great that I tell people it’s like driving an orange Winnebago!”
However, DeSotel misses some aspects of the good ol’ days. “Compared to today, there was no congestion on the roadways. You could go to a truck stop, fuel up and let your truck sit at the pump while you ate dinner or took a shower. Today, you wait in line just to get to the pumps!”
DeSotel took a year hiatus from driving in 1979 when he attended flight school in Arizona. When he struggled to find open positions in aviation, he realized the road was where he belonged. “If you’re a good, safe driver, you never have to worry about not being able to find a job in this industry. You can move anywhere, live anywhere and find work.”
Not only did DeSotel keep on trucking from that point in his career on, but he stuck with Schneider the entire time. “I remember early on, Al Schneider told us that drivers were family members and needed quality time at home. It was unusual back then for a company to get you home often. But they did it then, and they do it now. I’m grateful for that, since it allows me time with my wife Linda and my four kids.”
In addition to plentiful time at home, DeSotel has appreciated the financial security that comes with working for the company. “During the most recent recession, I didn’t feel a squeeze because the miles were always there. Schneider does a lot of things right and they just keep getting better at it.”
Travel and yard work keep DeSotel busy during his free time, but he has no imminent plans to retire. “This whole country is a neighborhood for me,” he says. Yet whenever he does choose to call it a day, he knows he’ll have no regrets.
Schneider defines a safe mile as one that does not include a preventable accident. The company annually recognizes drivers who achieve significant milestones related to their number of miles and/or consecutive years of safe driving. Current Schneider driver Bob Wyatt joins DeSotel as the only two current company drivers who have racked up 4 million miles – all of them accident free. There are 31 individuals who have hit 3 million safe miles, 377 with 2 million safe miles and 1,425 1-million safe milers.
Those interested in following in the safety-conscious footsteps of these true professionals by becoming Schneider drivers can learn about opportunities and apply at www.schneiderjobs.com or by calling 1-800-44-PRIDE.