These past few weeks, truck drivers have been on my mind more than they usually are. Maybe it’s because I have been hanging out with truck drivers as we make our visits to the fleets that are participating in Run on Less—Electric. I was also a guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Trucking channel and visited a number of truck stops as we began travelling again with our own camper rig. Truckers are vocal, and I really enjoy all these interactions.
I have been in trucking for my entire career, so I always have had a great deal of respect for the work truck drivers do, although for a lot of people trucks—and by extension truck drivers—are seen as nuisances.
The COVID-19 pandemic did a lot to change the way the public looks at trucking, trucks, and truck drivers. Truck drivers worked throughout the pandemic to see that grocery stores were stocked with the things we needed, that hospitals and other essential businesses had the PPE supplies they needed, and that once they became available that the vaccines got to the proper distribution points.
But a lot of Americans have short memories and now that things have settled down—excluding the shortage of some key materials—it is a safe bet that folks may forgot about how important truck drivers are and go back to being annoyed when they are behind a truck on the Interstate or stuck at a light as they move along in our cities.
I want to encourage everyone in the trucking industry to remind the general public of just how important trucks are whether we are in a pandemic or not. Remind them that trucks transport 70% of all goods transported across the U.S. Ask them to imagine what their lives would be like if they could not get 70% of the things in their stores, homes, or offices? The situation would be pretty bleak.
Truck drivers face a myriad of challenges every day from not being able to find parking when they need it, to dealing with horrible road conditions and bad weather, to being detained at shippers that don’t have shipments ready when they are supposed to be. And they must deal with some drivers who have no idea how long it takes to launch or stop a truck loaded to its 80,000-lb. legal limit. And that does not even begin to talk about the physical exertion it takes to drive a cab, or the noise and vibration drivers are subjected to during their long days of driving.
And yet day after day, they get behind the wheel of their rigs so we can get not only what we want, but what we need. In addition, many of them are committed to doing their part to improve freight efficiency and help trucking do its part for the environment.
To recognize the role of truck drivers, Sept. 12-18 has been set aside as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. But for my money, we should be showing our appreciation for truck drivers every day of the year.
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