Daytona’s first female UPS driver helps welcome 1,500 others into 25-year accident-free honor club

Janis Bailey is one of the 10,548 current UPS drivers in the Circle of Honor, achieving accident-free driving for 25 years or more. (Source: Gray News)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 8:52 AM CDT
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Gray News) – UPS is welcoming nearly 1,500 of its drivers worldwide into an elite group called the Circle of Honor, reserved for drivers who have not had a vehicle accident in 25 years.

At the end of March, UPS announced 1,495 of its drivers across four continents were inducted into the Circle of Honor.

One UPS driver who knows all too well about safe driving is Janis Bailey, the first female driver out of her center in Daytona Beach to join the elite group. She was inducted into the Circle of Honor a few years ago, but with that honor comes another – being a female trailblazer in the world of UPS.

When she joined UPS in 1989, Bailey wasn’t what customers were used to seeing in a male-dominated field. But she didn’t let that phase her.

At the time, she was working as a pharmacy technician when a customer who worked for job services offered to have her interview for UPS, because he knew of Bailey’s career goal to work for a good company.

She interviewed in April 1989, and after some time getting on her feet, she was asked to become a driver for peak season in late August.

“I just said yes. I don’t even know what I was saying yes to,” Bailey said.

But 32 years ago, the company looked much different. Bailey was one of the first female drivers in her area, only having two or three female coworkers at the time.

“I think when I started there were sort of doubts… even in supervision because they were mainly all male. My coworkers were mainly all male. I think at that time, you had to kind of prove yourself,” Bailey said. “I know I personally went way overboard, working really hard to prove that, ‘Hey, I can handle this, I can do this. And I can do this better than some of the guys.’ It was a time when I think you really, really did have to prove yourself.”

Among the few other women she worked with, Bailey said it was quite competitive amongst themselves – but now, things have changed.

“[UPS has] more female pre-loaders, more female drivers – twice the amount right now than I’ve seen in many years, maybe triple,” Bailey said. “The women have a camaraderie now.”

During her 32 years with UPS, Bailey managed to receive a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in criminal justice. But she hasn’t just been kept busy with work and school all these years – she’s also a mom of six.

Bailey said her youngest daughter, who is now 18, is starting to appreciate her mom’s go-getter attitude and never taking no for an answer.

“I’ve always just said [to my kids], ‘Don’t let anybody tell you no. You are you. Go do whatever it is that you want to do, and don’t let anybody tell you different,’” Bailey said.

She also advises that if you have the determination, you can juggle a career, school, and home life all at the same time.

“I’ve always told my children you can work and go to school at the same time. I earned two degrees while I was still employed at UPS. No matter what you’re doing at work, you can still balance your home life and school, it’s just your determination in doing that,” Bailey said. “Whatever you have your mindset to do, don’t let anybody tell you, ‘Well you’re married, you have a couple children, you can’t go to school.’ No, that’s not true. If you’re motivated to do that, you’re going to find a way to do that. A career is built on education, determination, integrity, work ethic, it’s all part of that.”

Perhaps the other 10,547 current Circle of Honor members feel the same, as driving accident-free for 25 years is no easy feat. Bailey considers being a part of the Circle of Honor, well, “an honor,” and she’ll continue to get a safe-driving patch of honor every five years, as long as her driving record stays clean.

“I think it’s inspirational, it gives motivation to other drivers,” Bailey said.

As far as how she did it, Bailey said focusing on safety first is truly the key to joining the Circle of Honor.

“Don’t be worried about the pressure of your time frame, safety is first. We all know time is important… we all care about production, but the safety is the first thing. Because once you get hurt, in a minute, all the rest of it’s over if you’re not safe first,” Bailey said. “I really appreciate our company now focusing on the safety about us driving… all of our training, we have so much training. It’s ingrained in me.”

So ingrained, in fact, that Bailey has passed down her safe driving skills to her six children and hopes to inspire other UPS drivers.

With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, UPS encourages all drivers to be more intentional about safe driving habits.

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