Trucks – we see them every day on North Dakota roads. We ride alongside them on the highway, and we see their trailers, decorated with the logos of nearly every major industry that moves goods and services across our country.
Interstate 29 and Interstate 94 are major thoroughfares for commerce and passengers of all varieties, and long-haul trucks travel those roads delivering critical cargo, such as food, clothing and medical supplies, to counties and towns throughout the Peace Garden State.
We recently celebrated the work of professional truck drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, and we were reminded of the sacrifices and strides these hard-working men and women of the professional trucking industry make every day to move America. After all, trucking is the only industry that directly ships to every community in America, rain or shine.
Many of us might be surprised to learn that 46 percent of the communities in North Dakota depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. Fewer trucks on the road would mean more expensive products, less interstate commerce and slower deliveries. Remove trucking altogether and essential cargo would not arrive to our doorsteps at all.
Trucking is an economic engine driving our communities. Here in North Dakota, the trucking industry means jobs. In 2013, it accounted for about 35,780 jobs — one out of every 10 jobs in the state — contributing to the nearly 7 million people employed in trucking jobs nationwide.
With an average annual industry salary of over $46,551, we know that professional drivers are a large part of North Dakota’s economic growth. Total industry wages paid in North Dakota for 2013 exceeded $1.6 billion. The industry truly allows state companies to prosper and expand, to the benefit of business owners, employees and consumers of all stripes.
Trucking even helps other businesses stay efficient by delivering those essential products that all of us need, including 67 percent of total manufactured tonnage in the state – that’s 52,819 tons per day.
In North Dakota, the trucking industry is further strengthening small businesses – an important element of our economy and arguably the most important source of our nation’s long-term economic stability. As of April 2014, there were more than 3,410 trucking companies located in North Dakota, and most of them are small, locally-owned businesses with fleets of 15 trucks or fewer.
Additionally, the trucking industry is committed to sharing the road safely with all vehicles and reducing the number of car-truck accidents. Industry programs aim to educate drivers on the blind spots of trucks and other safety issues.
Add these benefits together, and trucking is one of our best-kept secrets, but such a major economic contributor doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, a secret in North Dakota. So next time you’re out traveling the interstate and a semi passes by, or you’re at your local supermarket as a truck docks in the delivery bay, you’re not just looking at an impressive 18-wheeler traveling the road or providing food to stock the shelves; you’re looking at a vital machine powering North Dakota’s economy. PB
Co-Chair, Trucking Moves America Forward
President, Jet Express Inc.
Second Vice Chairman, American Trucking Associations