Trucker sets milestone: 1,000,000 miles

Friday, September 10, 2010
Carey Stringfield has been honored by his employer for driving 1,000,000 miles -- the equivalent of nearly two round trips to the moon -- without an accident.

A Chapel Hill man has been honored by his employer for driving 1,000,000 miles - the equivalent of nearly two round trips to the moon - without an accident.

Carey Stringfield, 38, a professional driver based at Con-way Freight's Nashville service center, is a short-hauler with less than a full load on routes to Knoxville and Columbus, Ind., and back.

"I appreciate the acknowledgement, but I'm not one to boost myself up," Stringfield said during a mobile phone interview recently.

He'd stopped off a side road to talk on the phone.

Stringfield's million miles started in 1997. He was honored by Con-way Freight late last month at the Nashville center.

His proud wife, Jackie, says "It's been a great blessing" that Carey's been a short-haul driver, a trucking job that lets him be home much more than long haulers.

They have three children: Wesley, 15; Austin, 13; and Jacob, 10. The Stringfield family lives in a Caney Springs subdivision.

"Safety is a huge issue with him," Jackie says. "They teach about hazards and he's learned a lot at truck driving competitions."

Carey has several explanations on how he drove so far without an accident.

"The biggest thing is to keep your eyes on the other vehicles," he said. "Make eye contact with other people. Little things will keep you out of an accident. The key is to avoid one.

"I start every day with a prayer. I'm led by the good Lord above. I credit everything to God."

That apparently includes having a good terminal manager. Stringfield praised Dave Spaulding as a "good mentor."

Jackie substantiated the importance of a good terminal manager.

"If he didn't have a terminal manager like Dave, I don't think he'd have stayed in the industry," she said.

"He's not a huge person," she said of her husband, "and a big truck can be very intimidating. The first five years are the hardest and then it becomes fun, and he enjoys trucking."

Stringfield's wife and children have also provided a strong motive for his work ethic.

On the loading dock one day, Con-way had a load of books in boxes weighing 50-60 pounds. Usually, drivers must load and unload freight.

"We had an account with Walden Books," he said. "A couple of times, I went to the restroom and said to myself, 'I'm done,' but I also said, 'I'm providing for my family.'"

A trucker like Stringfield can earn approximately $60,000 to $65,000 annually.

The Stringfields moved to Chapel Hill about eight years ago.

"My wife and I had financial struggles, but we overcame them and were looking around on the Internet," he said. "We visited Chapel Hill and weren't overwhelmed, but both of us worked in Nashville, and we went home and the next morning we woke up and decided to take a second look.

"Now, we think it's a wonderful place to live and raise kids," he said, noting that now Jackie works at a childcare center in Franklin.

"As a teenager, I worked at Wendy's and places like that," he said. "After high school (he was raised in White Bluff) he was working at a water heater plant. She was, too.

"I was 22. She was 21 and this young boy came over to me and said, 'Hey, that girl over there thinks you're cute.'"

The boy had also told Jackie that Carey thought she was cute.

The boy was laughing when the two started talking to each other.

"He didn't know what he was doing, but after 17 years, it's been wonderful," Carey said.

He then worked for another trucking company where he'd been promised training to be a driver, but wages were frozen and the boss wasn't going to deliver on a pledge from a previous chief, so Carey looked elsewhere.

Several applications drew two offers. Con-way's included driver training and Carey took it.

"I worked for about six months on the dock and started driving in 1997," he said. "I had a small accident early on in 1997. I hit an overhead sign at a gas station."

Con-way President and CEO Douglas W. Stotlar said, "Safety is one of our core values, and we congratulate Carey for his extraordinary achievement."

During Con-way's 27 years, more than 1,500 of its drivers have reached the million-mile mark. More than 100 have driven 2,000,000 miles accident-free. Con-way has more than 300 service centers. Con-way Freight is a subsidiary of Con-way Inc., a $4.3 billion freight transportation and logistics services company.