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44-YEAR TRUCKER IS THE FIRST UTAHN TO GET COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE

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Ira Hatfield has had plenty of close calls in his 44 years as a professional truck driver.

But the 67-year-old driver for CH Dredge and Co. has never had an accident - a remarkable feat considering he has driven more than 4 million miles."Some day I'd like to write about all my experiences," Hatfield said. "I've helped a lot of motorists, especially back in the '40s."

Hatfield on Monday became the first Utahn to receive a new commercial driver's license that certifies he is qualified to drive a heavy truck and to transport hazardous materials.

The new license will meet the requirements of a federal law requiring drivers to meet rigorous testing standards. Doug Bordrero, state public safety commissioner, said the license will rid the road of the few bad truck drivers that have given the industry a bad name and fill the roads with more truckers like Hatfield.

"I wish I could get 40,000 accident-free miles. I'd be happy," Bordrero said.

Getting the license is not easy. Hatfield, whose first job earned him $12.50 weekly at a time when many roads were tiny and made of dirt, had to pass a 100-question exam and an extensive driving test.

"I studied at least 15 hours," he said, noting he received no training when he started driving in 1945. "You had to train yourself."