CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kevin Asbury and James Priddy know how to drive trucks. They reached a combined 5.6 million accident-free lifetime miles this year.
The two FedEx drivers who pride themselves on safety captured their respective class title at the West Virginia state truck driving championship in June, which qualified them for the national truck driving championship in Salt Lake City.
The competition began Tuesday and runs through Saturday.
Asbury, 46, won the three-axle class title, while Priddy, 46, captured the Step Van class title.
Both have traveled to the nationals to compete and hope to finally bring home a national title. The 76th annual national championship will feature 422 drivers representing all 50 states.
"The main thing is focusing every day on what we do best, which is safety," said Asbury. "Ultimately we want to be the best we can be."
Competitors first complete a 40-question written exam that covers content from a yearly "facts for drivers" book about the trucking industry, safety and first aid.
The book, which is given to drivers each year, helps them know how many times to check their mirrors, how often to stop and check tire pressure and how to perform a proper pre-trip vehicle inspection. Drivers can earn up to 100 points on the written exam.
After the written portion, drivers must go through a "pre-trip" inspection. Mechanics from the U.S. Department of Transportation modify drivers' trucks to have deficiencies such as loose lug nuts, missing windshield wipers or other safety concerns.
Drivers must inspect their trucks and locate and properly repair the problems in a given time frame, which varies by class. This stage is also worth 100 points.
During one week he was on vacation, Priddy was either reading his book or listening to it on audio for two to three hours each day.
"Normal people on the road, a lot of them, just do not know what we go through to be a safe driver," Priddy said. "You have to constantly keep in your mind different things like following distance, staying out of packs of vehicles and things like that so I'm not caught up in an accident which could make it a whole lot more horrendous."