Accident statistics drive NatRoad award winner

By: Greg Bush

David Wilson, Angela Bawden and Jim Pearson were the award recipients at the 2018 NatRoad conference

Accident statistics drive NatRoad award winner
Professional Driver Award winner David Wilson (centre) with NatRoad president Allan Thornley and National Transport Insurance general manager Mike Edmonds


It was a major story which appeared in the July 2017 edition of ATN's sister-publication, Owner//Driver, that helped propel David Wilson into being nominated, and then winning the 2018 NatRoad Professional Driver of the Year award.

Wilson received his award during the gala dinner at the NatRoad annual conference, which this year was held on Queensland’s Hamilton Island on August 31 and September 2. Other winners on the night were Angela Bawden, of SRV Road Freight Services, and Jim Pearson Transport managing director Jim Pearson.

Bawden took home the award for 2018 Youth Employee of the Year while Pearson was handed the prestigious Ted Pickering Memorial Award. The awards were sponsored by National Transport Insurance (NTI).

Wilson, who has 20 years of safe truck driving experience behind him, is the owner of DJ Cool Freight, based in Pambula on the New South Wales south coast.

That front page Owner//Driver story last July gave a summary of the alarming statistics published in the 2017 Major Accident Investigation Report.

The report, released by National Transport Insurance’s (NTI's) National Truck Accident Research Centre, highlighted the large number of young female drivers, many under the age of 21, who were involved in fatal multi-vehicle incidents with heavy vehicles.

"That motivated me to then obviously take this out to the schools, which we got endorsement from the NSW Highway Patrol to push the message," Wilson says.

His aim was to educate students who were either about to or had recently obtained their licence.

"It was a hands-on experience for the kids," he says.

"We parked cars around blind spots of the truck so that they could actually sit in the truck and understand what a driver sees day-to-day out his mirrors, down the truck, in the front of the truck and beside the truck."

David Wilson and wife Annette Wilson at the NatRoad gala dinner. Photo Greg Bush

Wilson had first taken an interest in trucks as a three year-old. He began a diesel mechanic apprenticeship at age 15 before quickly going for his heavy rigid licence.

For the past eight years, he has run his own business, managing a seven-truck fleet, as well as 11 staff. However, he still enjoys getting behind the wheel himself.

"We mainly run Western Stars and Freightliners, and typically just from home, Melbourne, Sydney and also Brisbane," Wilson explains.

"Most of our carrying is fresh fish and oysters out of the south coast, although we do general freight back to the area, and various goods."

Wilson says it was his first attendance at a NatRoad conference.

"Being a small owner-operator, I’ve just never had the opportunity to get away to come to an event like this.

"We haven’t had a holiday in two and a half years, so we’ve incorporated it into a few days’ off as well."

Angela Bawden with her Youth Employee award alongside NatRoad president Allan Thornley and NTI general manager Mike Edmonds

During her acceptance speech, Angela Bawden, who is the compliance and fleet officer at SRV Road Freight, thanked SRV’s Mel Cosgrove, adding that "I couldn’t ask for a better boss".

"And thank you Errol Cosgrove for mentoring me and for support throughout my employment at SRV."

Pearson, whose father Jim Pearson senior started the business in the early 1970s, was caught by surprise when his name was called as the winner of the Ted Pickering Memorial Award.

With more than 40 years’ experience in the transport industry, Pearson was handed the management and operations role in the company in 1999, taking over the business completely in 2007.

Jim Pearson gives his acceptance speech after receiving the Ted Pickering Memorial Award.

Jim Pearson Transport has a fleet of 230 prime movers, 400 trailers and 480 employees. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, as he explained during his acceptance speech.

"We went through the school of hard knocks for a lot of years and we learnt a lot of lessons.

"I think it’s one of those industries that you’ve got to keep plugging away at.

"You do some good things, you get a snowball going in the right direction. If you do some bad things, the snowball will go in the wrong direction.

"Over the years we’ve just tried to concentrate on things that will make a bit of a difference," Pearson says.

"I’d like thank NatRoad. It’s been a great association; it’s been a great event and I’m proud to be part of it."

In a departure from previous years, NatRoad will join forces with Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) in 2019, holding the 2019 NatRoad conference on May 15, the day before the Brisbane Truck Show.


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