Transport Topics: Opinion: Trucking Is Essential to Our Way of Life
By Steve Ponder and Mike Card – Chairman, and Chairman, Fundraising, Trucking Moves America Forward
It’s the age-old question, “What do you do for a living?” Throughout our lives, we’ve spoken with countless professional truck drivers who tell us their responses are met with scorn, disdain and lack of respect.
The public perception of professional truck drivers is not consistent with reality. Instead of hard-working, family men and women who are away from their families for long stretches of time, professional truck drivers can be seen as dangerous and an unwelcome highway hazard. The truth, however, is that today’s truck driver is a skilled professional who follows stringent safety guidelines and is experienced with the new and improved technologies that make trucks smarter, more fuel-efficient and safer than ever before.
Safety is perhaps where public opinion is most skewed. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, large-truck crashes and fatalities have drastically declined between 2000 and 2010.
In fact, the past few years have seen the lowest numbers in crashes and fatalities to date. And while these numbers have dropped, the miles traveled have increased.
In our ongoing quest to educate the public, at the Mid-America Trucking Show, representatives from every sector of the trucking industry will stand behind a new industrywide image and education initiative — Trucking Moves America Forward.
TMAF’s goal is to unify, educate and inform policymakers, motorists and the public about the benefits of the trucking industry and to build the groundswell of support necessary for continued growth.
With this movement, you will meet the people — behind the wheel, in the garage and at the truck stops — who continue to bring communities together and drive the American economy forward with each mile logged. You will see the faces and learn the stories of the dads and moms, brothers and sisters, parents and friends who work every day to better the lives of the American people.
The trucking industry brings more than $642 billion in revenue into the country, thanks to the nearly 7 million people employed in trucking-related jobs — about 3.1 million of them as drivers. That’s equal to the populations of West Virginia and Maine combined.
At a time when almost 10% of our country’s workforce is looking for employment, industry experts project the transportation industry will add 30,000 jobs this year alone.
Trucking stimulates growth in nearly every sector of our economy — health care, fuel, transportation, retail, agriculture, banking and many others — and pays around $18 billion in total federal highway taxes annually. That’s billion with a capital “B.”
Nearly all the goods consumed in the United States are delivered by truck at some point before reaching their final destination. In fact, trucks exclusively serve more than 80% of the country’s communities — if it doesn’t get there by truck, it doesn’t get there. Imagine a supermarket without food or an office or home without furniture; that’s the America we would be looking at without the trucking industry.
We know the important role our industry plays in keeping the nation running, and we’re proud to serve America’s businesses and communities. Now it’s time to share our story through the TMAF movement.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, along with American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association, the Allied Committee for Transportation (ACT 1) and other organizations, recently combined forces to pledge their support to TMAF by joining the movement.
Visit our website at www.truckingmovesamerica.com to learn more about trucking and how to get involved in improving the image of our strong and essential industry.
Steve Ponder is vice president of Great West Casualty Co., and Mike Card is president of Combined Transport Inc. and immediate past chairman of American Trucking Associations.