Dennis R. Shirar, a Heritage Transport, LLC professional truck driver based in Indianapolis, Ind., was named the 2008 National Truck Driving Grand Champion. According to an American Trucking Associations (ATA) press release, Shirar’s driving skills and knowledge of transportation and truck safety information topped those of 375 other professional drivers from all across the U.S. in the National Truck Driving Championships, held in Houston, Texas. Dubbed the “Super Bowl of Safety,” the 71st annual event was sponsored by the ATA.

Shirar has logged 30 accident- and injury-free years as a driver, with over 3 million miles behind the wheel, the ATA reported. Shirar began competing in the National Truck Driving Championships in 1997, when he was named Indiana Rookie of the Year and placed second at Nationals in the five-axle sleeper category.

State champions in eight truck types from all 50 states took part in the competition. Collectively, they have driven 498,368,294 accident-free miles.

Located inside Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, the competition course challenged drivers’ knowledge of safety, equipment and the industry, the release stated. The skills course tested drivers’ ability to judge distances, maneuver tight spaces, reverse, park, and position their vehicle exactly over scales, before barriers or around curves.

“The National Truck Driving Championships showcase the industry’s commitment to safety,” ATA President & CEO Bill Graves said in the statement. “I applaud all the competitors for their efforts in making our highways safe, and congratulate Dennis for demonstrating how a dedication to safe driving skills can make you a Grand Champion.”

Shirar also won the individual straight truck driving competition. Other champions in their respective classes were:

Three-Axle:Victor K. Wheeler – Roadway (Bountiful, Utah)

Four-Axle:Ryan R. Kelley - FedEx Freight (Nora Springs, Iowa)

Five-Axle:Buner H. Evans - USF Holland (Bremen, Georgia)

Five-Axle Sleeper:Karl R. Bohrer - Wal-Mart Transportation (Katy, Texas)

Twins:Chris A. Mahony - FedEx Freight (Kearns, Utah)

Flatbed:Ben S. Moore, Jr. - Wal-Mart Transportation (Americus, Georgia)

Tank Truck:John A. Smith, Jr. - FedEx Ground (Mooreville, Mississippi)

Last year’s National Grand Champion was Alphonso Lewis, a professional truck driver with Roadway, the release stated.

Robert Romando, a three-axle driver for FedEx National LTL from Surprise, Ariz., was named 2008 Rookie of the Year. According to the ATA, Romando has been a professional truck driver for 18 years and has over 700,000 miles of accident-free driving.

The Georgia state truck driving championship team won honors as the highest scoring state team, followed by Indiana and West Virginia, according to the release.