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Honoring Truck Drivers Starts With Understanding Their Impact on Our Lives

Look around. Nearly 73% of everything you see was hauled by truck. America’s trucking industry is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. The 3.5 million professional drivers on the road make nearly every aspect of our daily lives possible. Yet, for most people, one of the largest and most impactful professions in the country goes unrecognized. That changes September 12-18 during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. These seven days provide the opportunity for everyone, not just those in the transportation and logistics industries, to pay respect and thank professional drivers for their hard work in a job that keeps our homes, companies, and economy going.

Since you might not have the opportunity to tell a driver “thank you” personally, acknowledging and respecting the role they play in our lives is a great way to honor their contributions.

Understanding the Demands of the Job

For every 10 long-haul truck drivers, nine will leave their current job within a year. Most will transition to a different driving job, but many will leave the profession altogether. That’s because driving a truck is a hard job. Maneuvering a tractor and trailer weighing nearly 62,000 pounds is taxing, not to mention the effort to enter and exit a rig. Many drivers also must load, unload, and secure cargo. Drivers sit for up to 10 hours a day behind the wheel with limited opportunities for exercise or healthy eating on the road. They often work 60-70 hours a week, but only get paid when their wheels turn. That means waiting on a shipper, navigating weather delays, or sitting in traffic—all out of a driver’s control—decreases their earning power. About 60% of loads require 500-plus miles of transit, keeping drivers away from homes and families for extended periods of time. All combined, that is a lot to ask of drivers for a median annual income of $47,130. Yet without these essential workers, we could not survive.

Truck Drivers as Frontline Heroes

The COVID-19 pandemic gave us a new appreciation for doctors, nurses, teachers, and grocery employees who worked while many of us stayed safe at home. Add truck drivers to that list. They kept store shelves stocked and delivered key supplies throughout the worst moments of the COVID crisis—and still are. These drivers endured a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 while also having less access to medical care on the road. Few clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals provide parking for heavy-duty trucks.

During the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages of the pandemic, truck drivers delivered. When staples such as meat and paper products became scarce, truck drivers delivered. As soon as vaccines became available, truck drivers delivered—protecting nearly 200 million Americans and counting.

In May 2021, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) temporarily modified its regulations to allow for additional driving time for commercial truckers hauling: vaccines, medical supplies and equipment, livestock and feed, food, paper products, groceries for emergency restocking, and fuel. The move provided an important spotlight on the frontline contributions of professional truck drivers in keeping America safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Economic Effects of Trucking

COVID-19 increased awareness of the importance of truck drivers. Yet they also play a pivotal role in our everyday lives. In May 2018, truck drivers went on strike in Brazil for one week and effectively paralyzed the country in many unexpected ways. The American Trucking Association (ATA) applied what happened in Brazil to the U.S. The organization discovered that if truck drivers stopped working, so would our country.

Within 24 hours, basic medical supplies would run out. Important cancer medications would expire. Mail and package deliveries would stop. Gas stations and grocery stores immediately would begin running out of supplies. Just-in-time manufacturers would lack component materials placing hundreds of thousands of employees out of work.

By the 72-hour mark, a national food shortage would exist, ATMs would be without cash, gas stations without fuel, and garbage would pile up creating hazardous environmental conditions.

Within one week, America would be running low on clean drinking water, hospitals would have exhausted their oxygen supplies, and a national labor shortage would exist.

Without truck drivers, even life’s most basic functions would be disrupted. Acknowledging their lifesaving, life-sustaining contributions is the best way any of us can say “THANK YOU” today and every day!

Langham Logistics is proud to work with the best carriers and drivers on the road. Our fleet of dedicated drivers paired with high-quality carriers from across the country helps keep this economy moving forward. We proudly serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic helping keep our customers and communities safe. For more information, contact us at info@elangham.com or call (855) 214-2844.

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