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Northern Alberta truck driver wins Professional Truck Driving Championships

Winner at annual truck driving "rodeo" enjoys career behind the wheel

Lac La Biche Transport’s Tim Bingley is good at what he does. On June 1, the 50-year-old Lac La Biche truck driver proved it once again with a top-place finish at the 2024 Alberta Motor Transport Association’s (AMTA) Professional Truck Driving Championships.

He won his top-place award in the B-train category, earning top points for his written exam, his knowledge in a pre-trip inspection, and navigating through a timed road course with eight skill challenges. Some of those challenges include navigating the tractor unit and two trailers — about 80 feet in total — around a curving, serpentine track without hitting pylons, making a tight, 90-degree corner without hitting curbs and backing up the trailers into a loading-dock area, making small, calculated maneuvers to get the trailers into position.

The road challenges were held at the AMTA’s compound, a large, paved lot near the Edmonton International Airport. The road tests were watched by hundreds of spectators and Alberta Motor Transport Association judges.

Bingley was one of 34 of the province’s best truck drivers competing in in several truck configuration categories at the annual event that professional truckers call “the rodeo.”

And this wasn’t his first one. He’s won about a dozen other awards for driving through his career. This year’s first place trophy is an upgrade from his second-place finish in the same category last year.

“This was my twenty-first year going to the rodeo. I’ve won first before – in 2017 I won in the tandem-tandem category,” said Bingley, who has been a professional truck driver for the last 30 years, getting his Class 1 license when he was 18.

Rolling along

Married with one adult son, Bingley says the truck driving career is a family tradition.

“My father was a driver. So, I’ve been around it my whole life,” he said, adding that the tradition is continuing. “My son is going for his Class 1 right now.”

Bingley has been working at Lac La Biche Transport for the last 13 years. When he’s not winning awards and neatly carving a trail around pylons for judges and spectators, his regular work shift finds him driving between Edmonton and Lac La Biche, “pulling Rocky” — a Rocky Mountain Double — a configuration of a two-trailer unit where the first trailer is longer than the rear one.

It’s a good career, says the veteran driver, explaining that the freedom of the road is one of the reasons he plans to stay behind the wheel until he retires.

He also admits to being a stickler for the rules, and a life-long learner.

“You can always be learning. It doesn’t matter what you do. You are always going to be better at what you do when you keep learning,” he said, adding that the truck driving competition is a way that the trucking industry highlights those important advancements and the skills of the drivers. He said the driving award is a nice way to be recognized for his work, a good way to show the importance of safety and precision in the trucking industry – and it’s good recognition for Lac La Biche Transport.

“We are going up against some of the best drivers in the province, so yes, it feels good to win,” he said.



A trophy-winning driver’s guide to backing up two trailers

Even for drivers with some experience backing up a recreational trailer or a boat, there can be challenges. So, what’s it like backing two 30-foot trailers into a narrow area, edging the rear trailer to the lip of a loading dock?

A day’s work, says Lac La Biche Transport truck driver Tim Bingley.  

Driving for 30 years, with a collection of trophies to show for his expertise behind the wheel — including a recent first-place award for being the province’s best B-train driver — the professional trucker has some pointers for anyone looking to make a career of a job he loves.

There are some parts of backing up a B-train that are similar to what it's like backing up any trailer, he said … except there’s two … and they’re long. The similar principles include being aware of your surroundings, making sure your tow vehicle and trailers are well-maintained, and planning ahead.

How Bingley explains the last principle, however, is a more like the weird parts of The Matrix.

“You almost have to see it happening before it happens,” he explains.

With two trailers, he says, it’s a calculation of small adjustments to get it “in the hole.” With one trailer, you can turn the wheel more sharply, reverse and pull ahead to correct over-steer. But with two trailers, it’s small, delicate turns. There’s angles to consider, calculations to make, hazards to watch for and a multitude of scenarios to interpret.

“You are always trying to correct your rear trailer,” he said, underlining that there is little room for error if those Matrix skills are lacking.

“If you start to jack-knife, you are going to be screwed up,” he said.

In general — for those who think backing the family RV into the camping stall without hitting a tree is the same as moving 130,000 pounds of metal and rubber through a busy city street, Bingley’s 30 years of experience and top-finish awards might say otherwise.

“There’s a lot more to this than just turning a wheel,” said the award-winning local driver.

Lac La Biche Transport owner Gerald Wowk was pleased for Bingley, saying the award was great accomplishment for the talented driver who represents 60 employees currently on the Lac La Biche Transport roster.

"I like to think they are all award winning," said Wowk

Other trucking companies in Alberta with top place finishes this year in categories including Straight Truck, Tandem Pup Day Cab, and Tandem Bunk, included Lethbridge Truck Terminals, Bison Transport, and Rosenau Transport. Fed/Ex driver Pritpal Sangha and Home Hardware driver Graham Vye were also top-place finishers. Sangha won this year's AMTA Ann Taylor Grand Champion Award.



Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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