Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

Honoring Joe Popple, Oakley Transport

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 8-14, 2019, is when America takes the time to honor all professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in tackling one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs. These 3.5 million professional men and women not only deliver our goods safely, securely and on time, but they also keep our highways safe.

That’s why SmartDrive is recognizing drivers who have been nominated by their fleets for the work they do to keep our roads safe, while delivering the goods that drive America. Our second profile is Joe Popple with Oakley Transport. We met Joe at this year’s SmartDrive Customer Conference in Atlanta where he spoke with conference attendees about the power of coaching. Everyone loved hearing his honesty, intensity and passion!

Having a dream to drive a truck since a young age, Joe has been driving for more than 30 years – the last eight with Oakley. He’s proud of his profession and appreciates that it’s allowed him to make a good living for his family. “It has been a blessing for me. I’m a man of values and morals and, although I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, it’s afforded me the opportunity to be the best I can be, while servicing my employer and my customers.”

Safety is always front and center with Joe. In addition to being a man of values and morals, he’s a man of pride. This was very evident when talking about having cameras in his cab. “When I initially heard about cameras, it was like you walked up and punched me right in the nose! I’ve driven for most of my life and now you’re going to tell me how to drive? But, I can now say – with pride and honesty – it’s made me a better driver. I’ve never let anything beat me in my life, so this became a challenge for me. As a result, I’m now more aware, have increased my following distance and am less aggressive on the road.”

Although he hates to admit it, Joe admits that the camera is a training tool. But, he’s quick to add that the power of the program is not the camera itself, but the coaching session that results from triggering an event. “That’s where I learn. I have respect for the people I work for – and they respect me. With that mutual respect comes the ability to accept coaching when it’s done in a timely and professional manner. We all want the same thing – to be safe on the road.”

Joe encourages other drivers to accept cameras as their friend. “It’s not a loaded gun pointing back at you. The less accidents we – and the industry – have, the more opportunities they’ll have to reward you for your efforts of putting safety forward.”

Speaking of rewards, Joe also appreciates that the SmartDrive program provides him with the opportunity to earn a bonus. With data from the SmartDrive program, Oakley has created a bonus program that increases as a driver becomes safer – or maintains a safe driving record. “The safer I am, the larger bonus I can receive. It’s not something that Oakley is giving me; it’s something I’ve earned. And, as a result of my being safer, everybody wins. It’s a public win. It’s a company win. And it’s a personal win.”

When not on the road, Joe loves spending time with his family – his wife of 34 years, his seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “I love the time we spend together. Although I love driving trucks, my family time is what makes it all worthwhile.”

To learn from SmartDrive customers how deploying the SmartDrive platform has materially improved safety, exonerated their drivers and saved lives, visit: