INL News Release
July 23, 2010

John Howze, 208-526-9292,
Nicole Stricker, 208-526-5955,

Retired INL driver named 2010 Rocky Mountain Region Safe Driver of the Year

IDAHO FALLS -- For the second year in a row, an Idaho National Laboratory bus driver has been named Safe Driver of the Year for the eight-state Rocky Mountain Region by the National Safety Council (NSC). Three other INL fleet drivers earned honorable mentions while competing for the same award.

Joel P. Wright won against drivers from throughout Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Wright has 40 years of safe professional driving without an accident and has documented 1,391,037 safe driving miles. He started work at the laboratory in October 1972 and retired several weeks ago. 

High-resolution image available upon request.

"Over the years, when we have put new drivers with him to learn our system, most drivers come back stating how they felt they were a good driver, but that they can't hold a candle to Joel," said Scott Wold, manager of Integrated Transportation Services at INL. "No matter who has been with Joel, they can't help but have a positive learning experience and always pick up good, safe driving tidbits."

In October, Wright will compete against seven other drivers from across the nation for the 2010 Joseph M. Kaplan Safe Driver of the Year Award when the National Safety Council holds its annual meeting. The national award represents the "best of the best" for safe driving among America's professional drivers.

"We congratulate Joel on this tremendous professional recognition," said Debby Tate, who oversees bus operations as INL's director of R&D Support Services. "All those who know Joel will tell you he is an extraordinarily safe driver."

For almost four decades, Wright has driven INL employees safely to and from work. He has driven day and night, in every kind of weather and road condition, from summer heat to the coldest and most windy winter days.

Three other INL bus drivers earned awards of honor in the NSC competition as well. INL drivers Phyllis Delgado (26 years), Rolando Hernandez (35 years) and Bill Quinn (30 years) were each recognized for having at least 15 years and 250,000 miles of safe professional driving. 

"We're very proud of these four for exemplifying the safe driving for which the INL fleet is known," said Integrated Transportation Services manager Scott Wold. "Getting people safely to work and safely home again is an integral part of INL success. They have a significant role in making Idaho National Laboratory a great place to work."

Scott Lyman, Bus Operations manager, agreed. "Their long years of safe driving speak volumes about their professional abilities and their personal attention to safety," he said. "Recognition at this level is fitting for drivers who achieve this record of service."

It is the second year in a row an INL fleet driver has won the safe driving honor for the Rocky Mountain Region. Last year Grover Staub won the award.

INL is one of the DOE's 10 multiprogram national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE's strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation's leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

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