As one of 3.5 million professional truck drivers on America’s roads, I’ll be joining you on the roads this fall as I help deliver the goods that you’ll rely on all year long.
The trucking industry, which is supported by 7.7 million professionals, including drivers, technicians, vendors and partners, delivers to 80% of America’s communities.
According to the American Transportation Research Institute, here in Mississippi, more than 85% of our communities rely exclusively on trucks for the delivery of everyday goods. Mississippi’s professional truck drivers travel over 4.5 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 Mississippi, the trucking industry provides 1 out of every 12 jobs, thanks to 5,350 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 lead to slower deliveries, which will disrupt our lives, businesses and the economy. If not addressed, the job shortage could literally shut down trucking operations and our deliveries in Mississippi 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Professional truck drivers have suffered from unfair and outdated stigmas over the past few decades, which has led to a decrease in the number of drivers in the industry, especially among younger generations.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% have a much more positive view of the industry and nearly half of those (49%) 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 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 year-round.
» TODD WILEMON a professional truck driver with ABF Freight, is a member of Trucking Moves America Forward.
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