VETERAN Colac truck driver Willy Watson says road safety is always on his mind.
The 73-year-old received the Australian Trucking Association’s national professional driver of the year award this week.
He said his 54 years in the trucking industry had taught him valuable lessons on staying safe behind the wheel.
“Concentration is the big thing, you can’t take your eyes off the road for one quick second,” he said.
Mr Watson said a personal tragedy had shown him the “human side” of the road toll.
“Thirteen years ago me and my wife lost our son Simon in an accident, he was a truck driver too,” Mr Watson said.
“I don’t have many wishes in life but the one I do have is that no more mothers or fathers have to go through losing their son or daughter in an accident,” he said.
“I don’t talk about it much and you’ve got to try and move on, but when you have a broken heart there’s nothing you can do to repair it.
“But driving has helped, I don’t know if I could’ve gone on if it wasn’t for being able to get back in the truck and drive.”
Mr Watson encouraged motorists to take safety precautions seriously.
“It’s a big responsibility being behind the wheel and people have to know that,” Mr Watson said.
“I’ve seen drivers playing with their phones or even taking photos on their cameras, you can’t do that,” he said.
“And you also see people who never ease up as they come to traffic lights, they just speed right through.”
Mr Watson said he wasn’t ready to retire from his beloved job.
“I’m still going strong – I’ve slowed it down a bit because I used to do interstate trips but now I just go locally,” he said.
“It’s great to get the award but I’m really no different to any of the other blokes.
“And none of it would’ve been possible without my wife Helen.”