Posted September 15, 2020

A Special Thank You on Truck Driver Appreciation Week

By Grace Tino

There is more to a truck driver's work than one may think; we don't call them "highway heroes" for nothing! Many aspects of everyday life in our society are made possible by the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of drivers across the country. Every good and product that a person uses every day is likely to have been brought to their local stores by a trucker. The essential healthcare equipment needed by doctors, hospitals, labs, and more were hauled to where they are needed most by truckers. The food stocking the grocery shelves and feeding the nation? Yes, likely brought by a trucker! Truckers are more than simply workers that move goods one place to another; truck drivers are devoted people that work dangerous and challenging jobs to keep the country moving. With National Truck Driver Appreciation Week here, it is time to shine some light and give thanks to the people that live their lives on the road!

Perhaps the most well-known sacrifice truckers make is the hours spent alone on the road. The trucker lifestyle can often be a lonely one, with some routes even requiring cross-country travel. Long hours on the job, large periods of time away from friends and family, and time spent in a small amount of space are some of the most challenging aspects for truckers to adapt to in their work. How much time exactly do truckers spend on the road? The maximum amount of time truckers are permitted to drive daily totals at 11 hours. Considering the average speed limit for trucks on highways is about 60-65 mph, that's about 605-650 miles per day! What is even more amazing is the estimated 100,000 miles driven by a trucker per year. The amount of actual time spent away from home and family can vary per routes. Over the road drivers, the most common position especially for new drivers, can stay out on the road for period as long as 4-6 weeks at a time transporting loads cross-country. Additionally, their "off-time" is often spent away from home, depending on their most recent route. While it may be hard for many of us to be away from family through an average workday, even regional and local drivers work longer-than-average hours daily to keep goods moving. Truck drivers sacrifice time spent with family and friends every time they hit the road. Many drivers note that loneliness is at the top of their concerns when working, as their social lives are greatly impacted by their unusual schedules. However, truckers also learn how to cherish time spent with their friends and family, and never take home-time for granted.

Truck driving has no shortage of occupational hazards. Drivers' work consists of multiple dangers from operating large equipment for long hours per day while surrounded by other drivers and pedestrians. A study from USA Today listed truck driving as the 7th most dangerous occupation in the country! In 2018, the CDC released a study that ranked truck driving in its top five most dangerous jobs. In fact, they found that, "Diver/sales workers and truck drivers had the most fatalities of any broad occupation group at 966. Among all detailed occupations, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the most fatalities at 831." The most common events that cause injury or worse to drivers are transportation incidents, such as accidents on the road. Common injuries truckers can face on the job, according to OSHA, include bruises, fractures, cuts, and soreness. The dangerous events that can lead to these injuries, as well as more serious trauma, are commonly overexertion, falls, being struck with an object or equipment, and accidents on the road. Between spending hours per day driving for weeks at a time, operating dangerous machinery, loading/unloading goods, and being at risk of accidents, truckers are constantly exposed to dangers on the job. Despite these risks, truckers push through daily to always finish the job, and they have no shortage of bravery.

Truckers are one of the most important pieces in the economy; without truckers, goods would never be able to reach consumers that need them, and the economy would be at a standstill. In 2017, truckers transported an estimated 10.8 billion tons of freight! That equates to about 30 pounds of goods per every man, woman, and child in the US. More than 70% of all goods in the US were brought to their destinations by a trucker. In fact, most grocery stores would run out of food in just a short 3 days if it were not for truckers keeping produce moving. Nearly every product we use daily, from food to paper towels, got to you because of the hard work and dedication of an American trucker. The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has been a particularly challenging time for the country and the economy. With demand surging at stores for essential goods such as toilet paper, food, and disinfectants, panicked Americans were facing shortages of the products they needed most. Additionally, healthcare workers were in desperate need of proper PPE, tests, and other equipment to properly treat infected patients. Truckers heroically stepped in as essential workers to the sudden emergencies of the pandemic, making some incredible sacrifices. Truckers stepped up to meet surging demand, braving much longer hours, difficulties finding food and supplies on the road, and crowded truck stops, all on top of the safety concerns surrounding the virus. Truckers were in such high demand that the FMCSA lifted the 14-hour workday for truckers transporting essentials such as groceries, fuel, and medical equipment. During their off-periods, truckers faced even more challenges as truck stops closed like many other businesses, restricting their options to park and sleep as well as eat. Many drivers also faced new safety restrictions and drove despite the difficulty of getting proper PPE such as masks and gloves. Without the sacrifices of truckers, medical equipment would have never been able to reach hospitals in need. Citizens obeying their stay-at-home orders would not have been able to replenish their groceries and essentials. Truckers are more than just essential workers; they are vital people in the country's society, safety, and economy, no matter what time of the year.

The most honorable and respectable quality of truckers is their passion for the job. Despite all the safety risks, inconveniences, and sacrifices, truckers choose to do what they do because it makes a difference. With extremely long periods of time spent away from home, as mentioned before, truckers may miss out on significant holidays like Father's/Mother's Days, birthdays, and even smaller events like a child's baseball game. However, truckers are proud of what they do and how they provide for their loved ones. Not only do they work hard for their families, but truckers also perform all these sacrifices daily for the success of the country, transporting millions of essentials every year and even more in times of global emergency. Simply put, truck drivers love what they do. The team at JobsInTrucks appreciates each and every sacrifice truckers make to keep our society moving. Though Driver Appreciation Week is only a 7-day event, JobsInTrucks is grateful to truckers all year as they continue to prove their dedication to the amazing work they do every day.

Click here to meet our National Truck Driver Appreciation Week contest winners for 2020.