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FARR WEST -- If you've ever spent a lot of time behind the wheel, you know how hard it is to keep a spotless driving record. A Utah truck driver who has done just that was recently honored for his achievement.
Monday, a couple hundred Utahns crashed their cars. Some days, under some circumstances, it's hard to steer clear of trouble; but Dean Shelton has always managed, despite more than 3 million miles on the road.
"I just go out and do my job," said Shelton.
He starts and ends every day with a safety check on his semi. That's what he was doing when we caught up with him at a truck stop in Ogden.
"I'm doing city streets, going through school zones, trying to get 109 feet around a tight corner," he said, pointing to his rig with two belly dump trailers attached. "It's a lot of mental fatigue, but I enjoy it."
This week, the Utah Trucking Association named him "Driver of the Year." He's driven for 37 years, more than 3 million miles, without an accident. Imagine driving around the world 120 times without a single crash; or traveling from Los Angeles to New York City 1,218 times without a speeding ticket; or driving from Salt Lake City to St. George 9,901 times without so much as a moving violation. Now, imagine driving all of those miles in a big rig.
"I'm humbled," he said.
Shelton said it takes knowledge, courtesy and patience to be a safe driver.
"Probably, one of the biggest points of my career was being acknowledged for being a safe driver. It means a lot to me," he said.
Of course, you don't log more than 3 million miles without a few close calls.
"I've seen a lot of stuff," he told us. "I've had a few close calls that scared me to death. You wonder, 'Could I do this again?' You just get up."
Shelton said he gives 110 percent every day, and never talks on his cell phone or listens to music while driving.
"I just drive and watch my surroundings. It's what you gotta do," he said.
Shelton wishes all drivers would show each other more respect on the road. He thinks that would eliminate a lot of crashes.
He aspires to end his career in a couple of years without ever hurting anyone.