Citizen Driver award ‘pretty doggone amazing’

June 13, 2019

Greg Grisolano

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Kenn and Elizabeth Zelten have been trucking together for 30 years and using the TA Chicago North truck stop in Zion, Ill., as a frequent stop on their many dispatches from their home base in Menominee, Wis.

Their home-away-from-home truck stop has become even more special, after it was dedicated in their honor as part of TravelCenters of America’s Citizen Driver program.

The Zeltens, along with their friends and family, took part in a ceremony on Friday, June 7, complete with live music, a home-cooked spread of salmon, pot roast and homemade desserts. The location is also close enough to home for them to have plenty of their family and close friends on hand to celebrate.

“It was absolutely perfect,” Beth Zelten said. “There’s nothing that I would have changed. The weather was great. The people were awesome. The setup was terrific … I think my favorite part was sharing it with all of all the people that we love.”

In their three decades driving team together, the Zeltens have amassed nearly 2 million accident-free miles. They haul specialized van and reefer loads for Landstar. They regularly take part in “No Zone” training sessions, where they teach motorists, particularly high school students, how to drive safely around large trucks. The couple are also OOIDA life members and have been volunteers with Wreaths Across America, Trucker Buddy International, Truckers Against Trafficking and Women in Trucking.

The couple also have a unique, 2015 Volvo VNL 730, named “Kermit” for its distinctive green paintjob and for a host of “green” technologies they have incorporated into it, like adaptive loading technology and solar panels to offset parasitic loads on batteries.

Launched in 2013, the Citizen Driver program seeks to honor hardworking, professional truckers. Honorees aren’t chosen just for exemplary safety records, however. The award places a premium on being positive examples and role models within their communities. There are now 29 TA or Petro Stopping Centers locations across the country honoring these drivers.

Fellow OOIDA life member Steen Gronlund was also named a Citizen Driver in 2019.

Beth said being named a Citizen Driver was an affirmation that she and her husband “are on the right track” with their careers.

“After 30 years you get kind of tired and you wonder what impact you’ve had on the industry,” she said. “But I’ll tell you what after looking back at my dossier that was presented to the judges I just couldn’t stop shaking my head because it’s like, ‘Wow, we really did this’… It’s pretty doggone amazing. And I didn’t do it at the time to begin to get into the hall of fame trucking but it’s kind of cool to know that what we did is recognized and nothing is going to change. We’ll continue to do it.”

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.