Professional drivers are unique individuals with the skills to maneuver the largest vehicles on the road while dealing with the tremendous stress that comes with the job. Citizen Drivers are all of that and more. Being a Citizen Driver has less to do with the truck being driven and the mentality of the person behind the wheel. Citizen Drivers go above and beyond to represent the trucking industry and to help their communities, much like Jerry Seaman has done for over 48 years.
From Huron, South Dakota, Jerry started driving at just 12 years old, delivering goods from farm to market. He later went on to work for Stan’s, a family owned and managed trucking business, where he spent nearly 38 years hauling liquid feed and grain. Jerry was looked to as a leader at Stan’s and was often appointed to help make company decisions regarding equipment and operations. To date, he has racked up more than 5 million miles in his impressive career, all accident-free.
In 2010, Jerry was chosen as the NASTC Driver of the Year and a member of their 2010 America’s Safe Drivers Team. Aside from his brief tenure hauling a tanker of food grade liquids for Cliff Viessman, Jerry’s entire trucking career has been working for small trucking companies.
“I get more reward out of helping small companies,” Jerry said during the June 9 on-air announcement on the Dave Nemo Show. “I’m a small town South Dakota guy. I prefer to be that way.”
In 2011, Jerry began competing in truck driving championships, a true test of a driver’s skills and safety record. In his first year of competing in the South Dakota Driving Championships, Jerry received first place in the 5-Axle Van Class, Rookie of the Year and the Larry Thury Award for the highest skills test score. With the highest overall score in the competition, Jerry was also named the Grand Champion.
Jerry’s South Dakota state win earned him the right to compete in the Super Bowl of safety, the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships. The win also granted him membership of the South Dakota Champions Club, a group that helps state champions prepare for the national championship and one that Jerry continues to be part of today. For the last several years, Jerry has set up a practice course for drivers, helping them polish their skills and gain confidence behind the wheel.
After receiving second place in the sleeper division at the South Dakota Truck Driving Championships in 2018, Jerry was asked to compete again in the National Championships as a fill in. After competing in 2018, Jerry decided to shift his focus to helping other drivers train for the competitions. In true Citizen Driver fashion, he felt he could make a greater impact on highway safety by promoting the events and the excitement of competing to younger generations of drivers.
While working for Stan’s, Jerry was offered a position in the safety department and worked with drivers to understand and follow the industry’s numerous safety rules and regulations. Today, Jerry continues to be recognized for his commitment to safety in the industry. He was the South Dakota Trucking Association’s Driver of the Month in September 2010 and October 2018, and was nominated for the 2019 South Dakota Drive of the Year award.
Citizen Drivers do more than drive a truck. While they spend most of their time on the road, leaders like Jerry still find the time to show up for their local communities.
One of Jerry’s most cherished awards is the Athlete’s Choice Award, given to him at the South Dakota Convoy and Truck Show benefitting the Special Olympics. He and his wife Wilma have served on the Convoy Committee for the South Dakota Convoy for Special Olympics for many years and have poured their hearts and even personal resources into its success. Both Jerry and Wilma received the Founders Award for their volunteer work for the event.
“It’s an amazing event with amazing kids,” Jerry said. “Even today, I can’t go to Sioux Falls without one of the Special Olympics athletes seeing and hollering at me from across a store. Some would even come running and have to get a hug. It’s so rewarding because you’re making a difference and you really get to see it.”
In addition to his extensive work for the South Dakota Convoy for Special Olympics, Jerry has also been a Sunday school teacher to both teenagers and adults, as well as a Sunday school director. He was also the music director and worship leader.
Jerry Seaman has spent his entire career devoted to the trucking industry and giving back to his community, so it will come as no surprise that he has chosen to give back to other truck drivers with his Citizen Driver donation prize. Jerry’s $2,500 donation will go to the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund to help support professional drivers in need of financial assistance due to injury or illness.
In addition to a donation to their charity of choice, Citizen Drivers get to choose a TA, Petro or TA Express to have named in their honor. Jerry’s hits close to home, as he’s chosen the TA Express in Vermillion, South Dakota for his site dedication. Formerly a Coffee Cup Fuel Stop, this was a truck stop he frequented long before it became a TA Express.
“Coffee Cup Fuel Stops have been in South Dakota for years and years,” Jerry said. “For over 30 years I stopped there on my dedicated coal haul. I suppose I’ve bought close to hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel from them, never had a bad gallon of fuel once.”
If you’re passing through South Dakota, stop by the soon to be Jerry Seaman Vermillion Travel Center! And if you know a professional driver who is a leader in the industry and their community, nominate them for the 2021 Citizen Driver award. Visit the Citizen Driver website starting July 1 to submit your nominee.