Orlando, October 19, 2009
Tractor-trailer Driver Virginia Odom of Orlando Surpasses 3.5 Million Miles Without An Accident
While navigating one of the most traffic-challenged cities in the country, UPS (NYSE:UPS) tractor-trailer driver Virginia "Ginny" Odom has logged more than 3.5 million accident-free miles and today marks her 35th year of safe driving - tops among female UPS drivers worldwide.
"Ginny is a classic example of how dedicated our drivers are to safety," said Don Gately, Central Florida District Manager. "Her achievement is something that should inspire both veteran and new drivers."
The 59-year-old resident of Winter Park, Fla., began her career with UPS in 1973. She stepped from behind the parts counter of a boating business and slipped behind the wheel of one of UPS's boxy brown delivery trucks, known as package cars. She delivered packages for her first nine years before switching to the big rigs.
Odom applied at UPS after hearing about job openings from a driver. She said she needed a better job to help raise her two young daughters. And having grown up on a Tennessee farm, she says she was well suited for the job.
"I was used to working hard and being on the go," Odom said. "UPS opened up a whole new world to me; I always wanted to drive a truck but never thought I would."
Since 2000, Odom has driven a tandem tractor-trailer rig (UPS calls them "feeders") on a daily 600-mile round trip hauling thousands of packages between Orlando and Cordele, Ga. Odom starts her day at 4 a.m. "before traffic gets too bad."
According to a survey by the Texas Transportation Institute, the Orlando metro area is tied for sixth worst in the nation for traffic gridlock. That - coupled with a burgeoning number of cars on the road and increasingly distracted drivers behind the wheel - makes Odom's job challenging.
"It's difficult to keep a space cushion," she said. "If you leave a healthy distance someone often gets right in there. A truck is something that can't be stopped like a car. People need to understand that."
Odom is the top female driver in UPS's Circle of Honor, an elite organization honoring current drivers with 25 years or more without an accident. Nationwide, more than 4,600 active UPS drivers are members; collectively they've racked up more than 5 billion miles of safe driving.
Odom credits her UPS training "and a little luck" to avoiding hazards on the road. She isn't satisfied until she's on the way home. "Then I think, 'It's been another good day.'"