This op-ed from professional truck driver Wayne Crowder ran in the Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.) during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.
Across 34 years and more than 3 million miles as a professional truck driver, I’ve always had three simple goals when I hit the road: successfully deliver the goods in the back of my truck, return home safely to my family and friends, and ensure that everyone I share the road with does the same.
These goals may seem obvious, but they are of the utmost importance to me. Not only that, I’m just one of 3.4 million truck drivers who feel the same way. And this week – National Truck Driver Appreciation Week – is a special opportunity to point out these goals and how they’re closely tied to the professional pride we share.
Each year, safety improvements and educational efforts increase. In fact, the trucking industry invests at least $9.5 billion annually in improving safety, and it’s paying off. Our trucks are safer than ever, and the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the fatal crash rate has fallen 73 percent since 1973 – in large part thanks to these efforts. And trucks have a crash rate 28 percent lower than that of any other vehicles. Organizations like Trucking Moves America Forward, our industry group, help to promote these positive efforts.
While these improvements have been invaluable, the most important safety feature of a truck is the person sitting behind the wheel. I’m proud to say I’ve driven accident-free for more than 3 million miles – and that during those years, I’ve seen firsthand how communities like Louisville truly depend on the freight in the back of my truck arriving safely and securely. Here in Kentucky, trucking delivers more than 75 percent of all goods in the state. That’s a vital contribution to our economy, and I’m honored to play my part.
During this year’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, it’s my hope that the good people of Louisville and communities across America will take this opportunity to celebrate and thank truck drivers for delivering the food that stocks the shelves of our grocery stores, the gifts to our loved ones, and the supplies that keep our schools and hospitals running.
I understand that it can be intimidating to drive alongside an 18-wheeler on the highway and that sometimes we drive a little more slowly than you’d prefer. But please remember the next time you pass a tractor-trailer, the man or woman sitting in the cab is working safely to deliver the goods that keep you and your family moving forward. We’ve got families of our own, and we’re committed to ensuring we all arrive home safely. Give us a wave the next time you see a driver on I-64 in honor of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. We’ll give you a friendly honk of the truck horn – and safe deliveries — in return.
Wayne Crowder is a professional truck driver and member of Trucking Moves America Forward.