Want to become a better truck driver? Go to and compete in the Truck Driving Championships.

Sound crazy? Think you’re not ready to begin thinking about the Truck Driving Championships as a rookie driver? Truck driver Paul Savill disagrees.

Savill, a trucker for more than 17 years, is a big advocate of young drivers participating in the Truck Driving Championships, and says the Championships were an integral part of his own growth as a safe, conscientious driver. And don’t worry; Savill said the same thing about himself years back.

“I thought it was crazy,” he said. “I was like, ‘there’s no way I’m good enough to do that.”

Savill works for UPS Freight, and although he is a 4-time Ohio state champion, says winning isn’t exactly the point. It’s what you can learn from the experience. And from the other drivers there.

And mentors, Savill said, are critical to your growth as a driver. In order to even compete in the championships, drivers must be accident-free throughout the year and pass a 40-question written exam, a 6-problem driving skills test, and perform a pre-trip inspection with planted defects. Naturally, being able to meet those criteria says something of your driving skill at the start, and the simple task of preparing to qualify will force you to step up your daily driving game.

5 ways that preparing for and competing in the championships help young drivers improve themselves as driver:

1…You will set goals for improvement. “You will learn about your vehicle, establish a good daily routine, and really learn how to be a better driver,” Savill said.

2…You will find the best mentors. Having mentors—several of them—is a factor that drivers almost universally point to as being vital to success. The Truck Driving Championships are jam-packed with the best drivers in the country who are almost literally lining up to help you out. “There were so many good drivers from different companies who just put their arms around me and said ‘let me mentor you,” Savill said. Do yourself a favor and take them up on their offer. You’ll get direct instruction, advice, and friendship, and you will certainly learn new and better ways to do your job.

3…You will learn about your profession. When you become registered you receive a book that features information on driving and on the truck driving profession, and contains valuable information that can help you gain valuable insights into trucking on their own. In addition, meeting, interacting with, and working with the best professionals of your field will expose you to new ways of doing things—that is, the methods and preferences of the best in the business.

4…You will gain new connections. Mentors aside, you will meet scores of new people, which in business means two things: new friends, or new co-workers. Yes, you can make connections and meet people, which in itself improves your professional standing, but networking is an important part of any business, and truck drivers have a vast potential professional network to draw from.

5…You will become more involved. Not integrating themselves into the trucking culture is a mistake that a lot of young truck drivers make early on. In choosing to “keep to themselves” they miss out on a lot of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Getting involved in the Truck Driving Championships places you front and center in the middle of your professional community and makes the statement that you are ready to become involved, and that you care about what you do for a living. For truck drivers, who are often underappreciated for what they do, this is key.