ATLANTA - UPS inducted 1,122 drivers into its "Circle of Honor," raising the number of active drivers who have avoided accidents for 25 years or more to 5,248.

UPS said that the number of new inductees is the largest for any single year in the company's history, up 21 percent from last year, and includes the company’s first three from Puerto Rico. UPS began service in that U.S. territory in 1985. In addition, 11 inductees from Germany and seven from Canada make this year's international class the largest to date. Collectively, the 5,248 drivers have logged more than 5 billion miles.

"I congratulate the 5,248 UPS drivers who have achieved such an exemplary safety record over the course of 25 years," said U.S. Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "I also want to commend UPS for placing such a high priority on public safety and the safety of its employees."

Of the Circle of Honor members, 283 have been accident-free for 35 or more years, with 27 of those having driven more than 40 years without an accident. UPS's top safe driver in 2010 is Ohio Valley District tractor-trailer driver Ron "Big Dog" Sowder, who has achieved 49 years and 4 million miles of driving without an accident.

"It's an honor to lead this remarkable group of seasoned safe drivers," said Sowder. "I'm not ready to stop just yet - 50 years without an accident has a nice ring to it."

UPS stated that it prohibited its drivers from using text and e-mail messaging while driving.

"Our training and our drivers' attention to details such as avoiding distractions while driving all play a part in their remarkable record," said Debbie Gehricke, UPS's corporate health and safety manager. "The Circle of Honor is a testament to the daily dedication that our drivers display in keeping the roads a safe place for everyone."

UPS stated that it teaches its drivers safe driving methods on the first day of classroom training, including the company's safety course, "Space and Visibility." Training continues throughout their careers.