Truck Driver Appreciation - More Than Just a Week
With National Truck Driver Appreciation Week upon us September 11-17, it’s important to express an attitude of gratitude to the men and women who are the living links in America’s supply chain.
It’s also an opportunity to renew our appreciation for the physical and mental demands drivers endure to get the job done.
Anyone who’s ever driven long distance knows the strain it can place on mind and body. Truck drivers know the feeling every day and power through regardless. Their commitment enables the smooth functioning of society.
How much of life hinges on our nation’s haulers? A lot. And their role in supplying everything from gas and pharmaceuticals to fresh food and building materials continues to increase every year.
Their contribution is too great to contain in a single week.
Delivering Freight America Relies on
There’s no denying the importance of truckers to every citizen and business of this country. It is a reality that was made abundantly clear during the pandemic when truck drivers braved COVID to keep the supply chain flowing and essentials being delivered.
Why are truck drivers so important? Without truck drivers everything would stop. 80% of US communities depend on trucks for the delivery of the goods they receive, says us-transport.com.
American freight moves predominantly by truck, not by rail, waterway or air. Road is really the way everything moves. That includes raw materials going to manufacturers, finished goods moving to retailers or ports and products being shipped from retailers to customers. Remove the people behind the wheel and businesses would fail and households would suffer.
With so many big rigs on the road today, you may wonder what percentage of goods are transported by truck? They haul 70% of the consumer goods in this country—over 10.42 billion tons of freight annually, according to jtech.org.
Drivers of Economic Growth
The abundance of truck transportation in the U.S. allows companies to sell their products across the country and beyond. It’s the very reason American companies can expand their market share and grow their businesses. Ecommerce and its ability to connect buyers and sellers from anywhere would not be possible without trucking. Trucks and the men and women behind the wheel are literally drivers of economic growth.
Driving on I-80 where passenger cars are often the minority, it’s easy to see how big a role trucking plays in U.S. commerce. But in dollars and cents, how much does the trucking industry contribute to the economy? The American Trucking Associations (ATA) states that in 2018, the trucking industry was a $796.7 billion industry.
Truckers are both independent and omnipresent, so it can be hard to think of them as an industry. Collectively, they are a tractor trailer powering our country forward.
Truck drivers’ impact on the economy is significant in many ways. For starters, how do truck drivers help the community? The trucking industry employs about 7 million people with about half of them being truck drivers, us-transport.com states. Those workers bring revenue to communities everywhere. Truckers aren’t just bringing the goods—they’re buying them as well.
Solid members of the community and citizens of our country, truck drivers paid $43.5 billion in federal and state highway-user taxes in 2017, ATA says. And not only do they perform a role that has a positive impact; our nation’s drivers are also neighbors with stable jobs. According to the United States Census Bureau, truckers are less likely to be unemployed than workers in other categories.
Rising to Meet the Road Ahead
Anyone who follows the news knows the challenges facing America’s supply chain. As critical links of the supply chain, truckers carry the bulk of the burden. The demands on drivers are high and getting higher thanks to a persistent truck driver shortage which ATA recently pegged at 80,000 drivers. The strain that creates is compounded by the ever-increasing demand for trucking as online sales continue to rise.
The industry is drawing new recruits, though. A recent Whitehouse release states that in 2021, on average, more than 50,000 Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs) and learners permits were issued each month. That’s 20% higher than the 2019 monthly average and 72% higher than the 2020 monthly average.
More relief is on the way. The Biden Administration made driver recruitment a focus of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In addition to removing steps in order to reduce the barriers to drivers getting CDLs, they accelerated the expansion of Registered Apprenticeships for drivers and are working to bring more women, veterans and under-21 drivers into the driving force.
Recruitment is only part of the solution for ensuring there are enough drivers to meet demand. Driver retention is a major issue. 90% turnover of long-haul truck drivers is common among big trucking businesses, truckerstraining.com says—and many are quitting the industry completely.
Now’s the Time for Truck Driver Appreciation
Trucking is an essential job that is often a hard job. Considering the critical role truckers play in all our lives, we all have a role to play in easing the load of truck drivers. So what can the average citizen do to help? We can promote legislation and regulations that help truckers make a living and support their health and safety.
And out on the road we can show our appreciation by being more trucker friendly. Not cutting off truckers or lingering in a big rig’s blind spots are a start. And giving a passing trucker a quick flash of your lights when it is safe to change lanes is always appreciated.
At Imperial Supplies, we celebrate and appreciate all of America’s truck drivers for their service. Without you, there would be no us. Thank you!