The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is proud to announce that this year’s International Driver Excellence Award (IDEA) recipient is professional driver Duane Dornath of Western Express Inc. Dornath has been with Western Express for more than 40 years and safely driven more than 4 million miles without incident.
“There are so many quality drivers out there and to be considered among them is an honor,” said Dornath. “This prestigious award is the highlight of my trucking career.”
CVSA recognizes the exceptional careers of professional commercial motor vehicle drivers and their commitment to public safety through its driver excellence award. The requirements to apply for this award are not easy to meet. Nominees must have at least 25 cumulative years of crash-free driving in a commercial motor vehicle with a clean driving record for the past three years, no felony convictions, no safety-related driving suspensions in the past three years and no driver violations in the past three years, excluding form and manner violations.
“We are so impressed by Duane Dornath’s many years of safe driving, his commitment to fostering and encouraging other drivers in his fleet, his community service and volunteer work, and his focus on faith and family,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “Dornath said it was an honor to receive this award but we’re the ones who feel honored to be able to acknowledge such an exceptional driver for his efforts.”
“Duane is the perfect example of what a professional driver should strive to be,” said Daniel Patterson, director of safety for Western Express Inc. He nominated Dornath and had this to say about him, “It is not often, in any industry, where you meet someone who is not only great at performing their job, but also positive in influence on both the industry and the community. I would consider myself fortunate to meet another person as passionate about serving the community, who takes the time to look out for others in the industry and who is an overall great ambassador to everyone involved in the industry and at Western Express.”
“Duane acts as a mentor for other drivers in his fleet and new drivers to the industry,” said Patterson. “Many tenured drivers in the fleet attribute their success to Duane being there to help coach them. He has developed a great relationship with his fellow drivers in his regional fleet as well as our management team.”
When asked what he enjoys most about his profession, Dornath said he most enjoys the freedom and being out on the road. “I’ve always enjoyed driving and seeing the different parts of the country. I’ve got a job to do but still can enjoy the outdoors. There is also a certain amount of pride in doing what the trucking industry does which is delivering the goods and services that we all depend upon.”
With decades of driving experience and millions of crash-free miles driven safely on the road, Dornath knows exactly what to do to ensure he is operating safely. “I think patience is a key element in safe driving,” said Dornath. “I always told my kids when they were learning to drive that they shouldn’t always expect people to do what they are supposed to do. People sometimes don’t and that’s how accidents can happen. Be ready with a plan B when you see plan A isn’t going to work.
He added, “I also believe that when it comes to any type of driving, short-term memory loss is a good thing. Forget about that driver that cut you off, forget about the driver that wouldn’t let you move over. Road rage only leads to bad things.”
As you might expect for such an extraordinary driver, CVSA’s IDEA isn’t the only award Dornath has received throughout his career. He has been recognized multiple times by Western Express for his professionalism and excellence in safety as the driver of the month and driver of the year in 2007 and 2017. Western Express has also recognized Dornath for both his safety record of more than 4 million safe miles and his 40-year tenure with the company. Dornath has also competed at state and national levels and he won the Iowa Truck Driving Championship in the flatbed division seven times and placed in the top three in nationals three times.
In addition, Dornath has also been a great advocate for the trucking industry with law enforcement and the community with his involvement in the Iowa Motor Truck Association Road Team, the Iowa State Patrol Ride-Along Program and the Special Olympics Convoy.
“As roadside inspectors, we interact with safe and conscientious commercial motor vehicle drivers every day and we’re grateful for the work of such drivers and motor carriers to ensure our roadways are safe,” said Sgt. Samis. “This award acknowledges our deep appreciation of the proactive steps that professional drivers take to safely navigate and share our roadways.”
“One mile at a time,” said Dornath. “You can have 10 million miles of safe driving, but that next mile is the most important mile to drive. Families, moms, dads and kids are counting on all of us to complete that mile safely. So many lives can be changed if we don’t.”
Dornath has a lot to be grateful for and he counts his blessings. “I thank God for the integral part he plays in my life every day. My life is very much faith based and God is my pilot every inch of every mile. I consider myself the co-pilot. His divine guidance has helped me through many situations. I give him all glory and praise.”
Dornath continued, “I thank my wife, Mary. We have been married for more than 35 years and she supported me through those years. We have four great kids and she is the main reason they turned out that way. I wasn’t always able to be there for their activities, but she was. She has always been there for us.”
“I am so grateful for the support of my whole family throughout my trucking career,” said Dornath. “Strong family support is a true blessing.”
“I also want to thank Western Express for giving me the tools to do what I do and for nominating me for this award. I originally started my career with Smithway Motor Xpress more than 40 years ago. When Western Express acquired Smithway, years ago, they took me on board and have always treated me so very well. It has been a great 40 years and counting.”
When he has time away from driving, Dornath enjoys doing yard work and, as a baseball fan, he tries to get to some Minnesota Twins games each season. He also enjoys spending time with his family and three granddaughters. “They keep papa on his toes and life in perspective.”
PrePass Safety Alliance sponsored 2020 IDEA. PrePass Safety Alliance’s mission is making highways safer and more efficient through innovative data-driven solutions. Its services help increase safety, reduce delays and costs, and enhance the economic and environmental benefits that the freight sector contributes to the nation.
“Thank you to PrePass Safety Alliance for its sponsorship of this award,” said Dornath. “And thank you to CVSA for what it does in helping keep the trucking industry safe for all.”