NewsPodcastTaking The Hire Road

A driver ambassador’s perspective — Taking the Hire Road

“We’re there to tell our side of the story. Unfortunately the media doesn’t always show the good side of trucking.”

Far too often the spotlight shines on trucking’s ugly side — accidents, substance abuse, etc. But rarely does the public see trucking’s generosity and well-being on full display.  

John Lex, driver ambassador with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and professional over-the-road driver with Walmart, joined DriverReach founder and CEO Jeremy Reymer on this week’s episode of Taking the Hire Road to discuss his inspiration for becoming a trucker, and the side of trucking he wishes more people could witness.

As a captain of America’s Road Team, a national public outreach program led by the ATA, Lex uses his position as a platform to echo the perspectives of truckers on industry issues with lawmakers and the general public.

“We’re there to tell our side of the story,” Lex said. “Unfortunately the media doesn’t always show the good side of trucking. That’s where we come in; we make it known that we are the good [drivers] out there.”

Trucking traditionally isn’t portrayed as having a warm relationship with the public, if the two have a relationship at all, which frustrates Lex. However, he’s glad to see the industry receive more affirmation over the course of the pandemic, as consumers realize just how crucial a role logistics plays in their lives.  

Just last year, Lex was parked in a Walmart parking lot late one night in Thomasville, Georgia. As he was performing his pre-trip inspections, a car approached his truck. That made him uneasy, as it was the height of the pandemic — he was afraid he might be robbed for toilet paper.

However, it turned out to be a man wanting to pray for his safety, as he’s done with first responders as well.

“It was just an amazing experience,” Lex said. “Those are the stories I want the media to show, because that’s the real side of trucking.”

Lex first stepped into the driver’s seat 36 years ago, but he was practically raised in a big rig. Growing up, he couldn’t wait to become a professional truck driver just like his father. He credits time with his father not only with inspiring him to become an excellent driver, but also shaping him to be friendly to everyone he meets.

“I owe it all to my dad,” Lex said. “I watched the way he interacted with everybody, whether it was a place he was delivering to or where we stopped to eat lunch or breakfast, how he treated the waitress staff and everything else. My dad was my biggest mentor, and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him showing me the ropes of not only how to be a professional truck driver, but how to be a good human being.”

In his 36 years on the road, Lex has accumulated over 3 million accident-free miles, has received numerous safe driving awards, including Driver of the Year by the Georgia Motor Trucking Association, and has even had President Donald Trump hop aboard his big rig at a White House event.

However, the past year has been challenging for Lex, who was diagnosed with colon cancer last April. Coronavirus tensions were high among hospital staff, he recalls.

“I was in a hospital by myself — lonely, scared. I didn’t have my wife with me,” Lex said. “But then I got to the point where all my family — not just my immediate family, but my trucking family — wrapped their arms around me, and I realized that when you have a terrible disease like cancer, you don’t fight it by yourself.”

Lex has since shared videos of his fight on Facebook with his family and friends. After he initially beat the cancer last year, it came back this January, spreading to three separate areas and a bit more aggressive than last year’s diagnosis. But Lex remains in good spirits and expects to climb back in the truck sooner rather than later.

“Without my faith in God, my amazing, amazing wife, my family, as well as my trucking family, there’s no way in the world. I could do this by myself,” Lex said.

His advice to everyone is to expect curveballs in life but not to face them on alone. Rather, Lex strongly suggests reaching out to friends and loved ones for support.

To support John Lex in his fight against cancer, a GoFundMe page has been set up for his family. The fund has currently raised $30,000, quickly approaching its $50,000 goal.

Click to donate: Get Lex Back in the Truck — Help Him Beat Cancer

More from Taking the Hire Road:

Driver Training & Engagement with Luma

Recruit and retain with Brand Outcomes

Innovative driver recruiting

Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.