We need to keep trucking industry thriving

Jun 12 2019 | 11:34 AM

    To the Editor:
    This summer, while you’re on the way to a barbecue, the pool or heading away on a beach getaway, you’ll be sharing the road with millions of Americans who are traveling during the summer season. As one of 3.5 million professional truck drivers on America’s roads, I’ll be joining you on the road too, as I help deliver the goods that you’ll rely on all summer long.
    Making special summer days happen is due in large part to the trucking industry: the food on the grill, floats in the pool, and umbrellas on the beach were all delivered to you by a truck. The trucking industry, which is supported by 7.7 million professionals, including drivers, technicians, vendors and partners, delivers to 80 percent of America’s communities.
    According to the American Transportation Research Institute, here in New York, more than 89 percent of our communities rely exclusively on trucks for the delivery of everyday goods. New York’s professional truck drivers travel 8 billion miles year-round to deliver everything we rely on, including our food, medication, clothing and the gas in our cars.
    The trucking industry is a strong contributor to our economy, supplying goods and jobs to our local businesses and communities. Here in New York, the trucking industry provides 1 out of every 28 jobs, thanks to 36,130 trucking companies. In total, the industry contributes over $700 billion in revenue a year in the U.S.
    But a driver and technician shortage in the U.S. threatens to slow the industry down as our economy strengthens and demand within the trucking industry grows. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports a shortage of 50,000 qualified drivers. Fewer trucks on the roads leads to slower deliveries, which will disrupt our lives, businesses and economy. If not addressed, the job shortage could literally shut down trucking operations and our deliveries in New York and throughout the country.
    Professional truck drivers have suffered from unfair and outdated stigmas over the past few decades, which has led to a decrease in the number of drivers in the industry, especially among younger generations. Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF), an industry-wide movement, has been working to change the misguided view of truck drivers by educating the public on the positive contributions that hardworking truck drivers make to our communities and economy. In fact, TMAF’s research earlier this year found that of those who know someone in the trucking industry, 74 percent have a much more positive view of the industry and nearly half of those (49 percent) who know someone in the trucking industry believe that the industry’s safety record has gotten better over the last twenty years. So, while the industry’s image continues to improve, there’s work to do to fill the job shortage and keep our industry thriving.
    Without trucks drivers, there would be no deliveries to our businesses, hospitals or schools. Imagine no medicine or food being delivered. Our lives – and our nation’s economy — would essentially come to a standstill. That’s why truck drivers take great pride in our work: we are helping to move America forward through safe and on-time deliveries.
    The trucking industry offers many diverse jobs for drivers, including flatbed, refrigerated, less than truckload (LTL) or truckload opportunities. There are also other positions in the trucking industry that require specific technical skills. These are all jobs that offer great starting salaries and benefits, and provide the training needed to jumpstart a career. From mechanics and technicians, to corporate and management positions, there are career opportunities for everyone in the industry if they are up for the challenge of helping to deliver to our communities.
    By helping correct the misguided image of truck drivers and educating the public about the many jobs offered across the industry, we hope to recruit well qualified drivers, including the next generations and veterans to fill the current job shortage.
    Though our specific jobs and routes may differ, truck drivers all share a strong sense of industry pride. We love our jobs and are fully committed to the safety of those with whom we share the road. So, when you are driving on the road this summer and you pass a truck, I hope you’ll remember that it’s more than just a large vehicle beside you and that the driver behind the wheel is a person just like you. The truck driver next to you could be your neighbor or friend who is working to deliver everything you and I will rely on this summer season and year-round.
    Charlton Paul
    Professional truck driver, UPS Freight, and member of Trucking Moves America Forward
    Chester