National Truck Driver Appreciation Week gives us an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of truck drivers in a time when they’re needed more than ever. Truck drivers undergo rigorous training and regularly face challenges to provide people with the goods and commodities they need. In the midst of COVID-19, it’s vital to recognize truck drivers as essential workers.
3 Reasons to Appreciate Truck Drivers This Week
Here are just three of the many reasons we appreciate truck drivers this week and every week.
1. Truck drivers are essential workers.
In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no doubt that truck drivers have played a pivotal role in many aspects of life, including the distribution of increased online orders and lifesaving vaccines.
The American Trucking Association’s Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan recognized the indispensable role of truck drivers in the fight against COVID in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Sullivan said, “The COVID pandemic made Americans more acutely aware of how critical truckers are in sustaining the high standards of living we enjoy.”
In fact, stores running short on stock are sometimes the result of insufficient numbers of truck drivers to keep up with demand for goods. Every person in the U.S. depends on products delivered by truck drivers. Over 80% of American communities receive goods and commodities solely through trucking, but the country is short on drivers due to poor pay and long hours. This results in high turnover.
Secretary Buttigieg and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh argue that truck drivers should be treated as well as other essential workers in this pandemic. After all, without truck drivers, even doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic wouldn’t have the supplies they need to treat patients.
Additionally, an emergency declaration has been issued for interstate transportation. It allows drivers to continue working during the pandemic so that goods continue to move through the supply chain. States and the federal government clearly recognize truck drivers as invaluable essential workers.
2. Truck drivers overcome barriers to training and certification.
During National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, it’s important to recognize that truck drivers overcome challenges from day one of their truck driving days. Not just anyone can become a truck driver, and they pursue endorsements throughout their careers.
Following the Rules of Licensure and Certification
Truck drivers do receive on-the-job training, but first, aspiring truck drivers can attend a private truck driving school or a community college program. Upon completion of their classes, they receive the first level of certification they need to pursue a career in truck driving.
All truck drivers also need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Although the qualifications vary by state, they generally include a written test and a driving test. Drivers can earn additional endorsements for transporting different types of materials, including hazardous materials.
Federal and state regulations are strict for maintaining a commercial driver’s license. On top of earning certifications and endorsements, truck drivers are required to keep their driving record clear and pass a physical exam every two years. Additionally, truck drivers are subject to random drug and alcohol testing.
The median age of a truck driver in training is 35. This means that new truck drivers are often changing careers and experiencing all the challenges that go along with that transition. The industry is hoping to draw younger adults to the industry by showing the long-term potential of a career in truck driving.
3. Truck drivers overcome everyday challenges.
After passing rigorous tests and earning endorsements, truck drivers face challenges in carrying out their important work. During National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, it’s important to highlight truck drivers’ perseverance in the face of these obstacles.
Stamina and Perseverance in Truck Driving
Truck drivers’ physical capabilities are often underestimated. Truck drivers must have excellent hand-eye coordination, good hearing, and reliable vision. These qualities certainly counter the typical stereotypes of truck drivers!
Truck driving remains a dangerous job. In fact, in 2019, it was named the seventh most fatal job in the country. Over 1,000 work injuries occurred that year.
Hours for long-haul truck drivers are not for the faint of heart. Truck drivers can drive over six hundred miles in a day if they follow the 11-hour driving limit and take their required 30-minute break. Team drivers can travel even further in a day.
Big Responsibilities and Few Accommodations
Practical aspects of completing a trucking route can be trickier than one might expect. Truck drivers report a shortage of parking that has increased in the last seven years, especially in large metro areas. Not many new public facilities are being developed to accommodate truck drivers on long-haul routes. Recently, Representatives Mike Bost and Angie Craig introduced the bipartisan Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act with hopes of bettering the situation.
Hurting from Long Wait Times
Long wait times for parking, as well as detention, also can contribute to driver fatigue. Detention refers to a period of time over what is scheduled for shippers to load or receivers to unload a truck. Adding this time to the long hours truck drivers spend on the road presents a difficulty all its own.
Celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week with First Call Logistics
National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, observed September 12–18 this year, is an opportunity to recognize the challenges and triumphs of truck drivers. From the start of their careers, truck drivers overcome obstacles to keep the economy driving forward. Their contributions have been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they haven’t fully received their due, truck drivers are undoubtedly essential workers. To celebrate drivers this year, the First Call team will be hosting daily giveaway opportunities throughout the week. Don’t miss your chance to win! To participate, subscribe to our National Truck Driver Appreciation Week email updates.