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John Giunta is a veteran truck driver who also works as a volunteer teaching high school students road safety.Handout

The organizer: John Giunta

The pitch: Teaching road safety to teenaged drivers

John Giunta had been driving trucks for more than 30 years when he entered a contest that changed his life.

Mr. Giunta, 56, tried out as a Road Knight, a volunteer position sponsored by the Ontario Trucking Association that helps young drivers learn about road safety. The competition involved hundreds of contestants and Mr. Giunta won one of seven spots. “I’m a loner type of trucker and here I am presenting myself in front of a panel of judges,” Mr. Giunta recalled from his home in Courtice, Ont., east of Toronto.

Mr. Giunta spent much of 2017 and 2018 visiting high schools across Southern Ontario, offering driving tips to teenagers and telling them about the trucking industry. Mr. Giunta is an owner-operator, but he hauls trailers for Polaris Transportation Group and the company donated his time.

“They don’t teach students about truck safety and how to handle yourself around a tractor-trailer on the highway in driving school,” he said. Mr. Giunta taught the students how to pass trucks on the highway and why they shouldn’t linger beside the vehicle. He talked about how long it takes for a fully loaded 18-wheeler to stop and the dangers of tires blowing out on the highway.

After his two-year stint, Mr. Guinta trained the next group of Road Knights and he provides the OTA with feedback on various issues. The Road Knights program has been on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Mr. Giunta is confident it will resume again soon, and he’d like to volunteer again. “It was a learning experience for me as well,” he said.

He’s still passionate about trucking and never tires of life on the road. “When I’m at an intersection and I turn that truck to the left or to the right and I look in that mirror and I see that trailer coming around with me, I love it,” he said. “I still enjoy what I do.”

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