Ode to the Third Shift: Mr. Safety

Driving trucks isn't just a job for Jeff Langenhahn; it's a lifestyle.

"I go to work enjoying my job," Langenhahn said.

Driving truck has been a dream for as long as he can remember.

"I love driving," Langenhahn said. "Ever since I was a little boy, I liked driving the farm tractors."

He wakes up at 6 p.m. to work until 10 a.m., tackling his third shift route.

"It's a long ways!" Langenhahn said.

His route includes 240 miles down to La Salle, Il.

It's 4 hours one way, 4 hours back.

"That's a day, or an evening," Langenhahn said. "That's a full day. It's usually about 12 hours."

The long drive on the highway is nothing but burned rubber for this 2009 Ray Newberry Mr. Safety recipient.

He's been driving truck for Con-way Freight for 29 years.

"My approach is to be curteous and to be a defensive driver," Langenhahn said. "Expect the unexpected."

It's why his employer is honoring him for driving 1,000,000 miles without a scratch, crash or other traffic incident.

"The key is to get enough rest when your off, so your alert and in good shape to drive safely," Langenhahn said.

Con-way Freight has calculated Langenhah's 1,000,000 miles is equivalent to circling the earth 41.5 times.

It would take an average driver in the motoring public 74 years to drive that far, but not Langenhahn.

"It usually takes just about 10 years to get," Langenhahn said. "I'll drive about a 100,000 miles a year."

Driving at odd hours, battling sleep and making time for family all pose as roadblocks when working the third shift.

"They're (family) really understanding and supportive," Langenhahn said. "It (working third shift) can put a strain on how to get which kids to which activities."

Langenhan is most proud of his safety record.

"There is an occasion that you get tired, but then you just stop somewhere take a little cat nap," Langenhahn said.

Keeping every mile in mind during the night or the day is most important.

"Youre supposed to check your mirrors every 5-8 seconds they say," Langenhahn said.

Being safe is important so he can continue to provide for his family and uphold his "Mr. Safety" title every time he drives off on another third shift.

"At the end of the day, it's about being safe returning home, just like everybody thats out on the highways," Langenhahn said. "They want to return home safe to their family at the end of the day."

Langenhahn said he's a five-time, state truck-driving champion.

He said to earn his "Mr. Safety" award, he had to do a written test, pre-truck inspection test and a obstacle course, all strides he's willing to make again next year to uphold his title

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