Trucks – we see them every day on Kentucky 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 across our country.
These professional drivers are the fabric of our communities and are our friends, former classmates and family members.
Trucking is the only industry that ships directly to every community in America, and it touches nearly every aspect of our lives.
Trucking not only connects the country and delivers goods that keep us healthy and comfortable, it’s an economic engine that creates jobs and sustains businesses through the country.
This week, as our country celebrates National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, let’s celebrate the strides the 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.
Here in Kentucky, the trucking industry means jobs. It accounts for about 109,000 jobs and growing – a substantial portion of the nearly 7 million people employed nationwide in trucking jobs.
Many truck companies are owner-operated, with more than 90 percent driving their own small, independent business.
Many might be surprised to learn that 89 percent of Kentucky communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. Fewer trucks on the road would mean more expensive products, less interstate commerce and slower deliveries. If trucking was removed altogether, then essential cargo would not arrive to our doorsteps at all.
The trucking industry allows businesses to prosper – to the benefit of business owners, employees, and consumers. Collectively, Kentucky trucking industry wages paid in 2013 exceeded $4.6 billion.
These well-paid, middle-class jobs range from professional drivers to the mechanics, logistics specialists and vendors who work behind the scenes to keep trucks on the road.
In Kentucky, the trucking industry is strengthening small businesses – an ever-important element of our local economy and arguably the most important element of our nation’s long-term economic stability.
Trucking helps other state businesses stay efficient by delivering essential products that all of us need.
Trucks transport 77 percent of total manufactured tonnage in the state – 355,305 tons per day. As of last April, there were more than 14,000 trucking companies in our state, and most of them are small, locally owned businesses with fleets of 15 trucks or fewer.
In times of crisis, our trucking industry is there to deliver goods and supplies to help communities rebuild – from food and housing relief to first aid.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as many as 32 food trucks were dispatched, each serving more than 500 meals to storm victims in areas without access to food or restaurants.
Add these benefits together, and trucking is one of our best-kept secrets, driving our nation’s economy forward with every delivery. But such a vital economic driver doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, a secret here in Kentucky, or anywhere.
So, the next time you’re on an interstate and a tractor-trailer passes by, or you’re at the local grocery as a truck docks in the delivery bay, you’re not just looking at an impressive 18-wheeler traveling the road with food that will stock the shelves. You’re looking at a vital machine for Kentucky’s economy.