Ted Carlson Brings Marathon Mentality to Driving Freight
Ted Carlson has pursued his passion for driving since the day he drove his first car, which didn’t even have a gas cap!
The current road driver for FedEx Freight has, over the years, tried his hand at driving just about anything he could get his hands on. From an M1 Tank on patrol in Iraq, loading dock cranes, an array of armored Humvees…he even once tried to drive an Iraqi steamroller to help with road construction! Rewind even a few years further back, and there’s Ted, in the midst of hurricane Katrina relief: It seems that there was a gigantic airport fire truck that nobody knew how to move, so of course, Ted jumps in and figures it out.
But with Ted, it’s not just variety that motivates him; it’s consistency. During his 22 years as a FedEx Freight team member, Ted has appeared at the prestigious National Truck Driving Championships 4 times (a finalist in this year’s 4-axle category) and has driven more than 1.5 million miles without ever having an accident.
Carlson also loves running marathons, and he’s done it so many times that he’s actually lost count of the total number! Ted’s boundless energy manifests itself even on his mandatory lunch break, during which he can often be seen taking a short run, just to take advantage of the time. Ted says, “The mental aspect of marathon running is very similar driving long distances. The mental prep lists and building upon stepping stones…running and driving have a lot in common.”
Ted and his wife Suzy have two daughters, Taylor and Sydney. The Carlson family lives in Vancouver, Wash.
Silver 1976 Toyota Corolla with no gas cap – used a sock
Fully loaded Ford F-250
Favorite time of day to drive?
I like being out when the sun comes up. It’s peaceful, not a lot of traffic. I just love watching the sun coming up over the Oregon mountains.
What’s changed most with road travel since you first started driving?
Distracted driving has become a major problem in recent years. There are so many things that people are doing in their cars now. And it’s not just external – there are so many devices and systems in a car now that take attention away from the task of driving.
What’s the biggest improvement in road travel since you started driving?
Safety devices on vehicles have improved dramatically. We have things now that are equivalent to safety systems on jet planes: adaptive cruise control uses radar to sense traffic around you, and will stop you if traffic slows in front of your vehicle. (When I was a kid we just had mom’s arm reaching out to hold us in our seats!)
What invention/improvement would you most like to see on American roads?
In the end I just want everybody to get home safely. Roads would be much more safe if all drivers could be more focused when we drive, and try to follow the rules of simple courtesy.