- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - John Schank has been routinely driving one of the most dangerous roads in America for more than 37 years without a single accident.

Schank, a Fairbanks-based driver for Lynden Transport, drives his truck up and down the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay.

Since he started with Lynden in 1975, he has driven the haul road 4,921 times, a distance of 5 million miles, according to Greg Buscher, the service manager of Lynden’s Fairbanks center.

Schank received the 2014 Driver of the Year award by the Alaska Trucking Association and on Thursday added a special commendation from Gov. Sean Parnell to his list of honors.

During the course of his career, Schank has amassed more miles on the highway than any other driver in the road’s history.

A handful of Schank’s co-workers, past and present, stood up at the ceremony Thursday to attest to Schank’s unmatched safety record and professionalism.

Terry Holt, a fellow driver for Lynden said for many of the younger drivers, Schank is like a father figure. Holt said Schank has never been too busy to share his knowledge with the younger drivers on the road and always does it humbly.

Schank has always been willing to share more than just knowledge with his peers, Holt said. If another driver needs a helping hand, Schank is always there to offer it.

“He’s there when you need him,” Holt said.

According to Schank, much of the difficulties on the haul road come down to common sense.

“As it comes up, you just deal with it,” Schank said. “Every trip is different up there.”

Despite the difficulties of the haul road and the often unpredictable nature of the road’s conditions, Schank has found a way to reliably arrive at his destination on time during the years.

“You could almost set your clock on when he’d be there,” Glenn “Oly” Aasland said.

Aasland worked with Schank for more than a decade as the Lynden terminal manager in Prudhoe Bay.

“If I had something special priority to get to town, I would always give it to John because I knew it would get to town,” Aasland said.

After all the comments about Schank’s history on the haul road, Ken Hall stood up to add his compliments but also to add a reminder that Schank isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“I don’t want it to sound like a wake here,” Hall said. “You’re not going anywhere.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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