Honoring America's Unsung Heroes

September 19, 2013

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is a time when America takes time to honor all professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in tackling one of our economy's most demanding and important jobs. The celebrations honoring these unsung heroes will take place between Sept. 15-21 this year.

"Professional truck drivers deliver our nation's essential freight safely everyday," said American Truckig Assns. President and CEO Bill Graves. "As a result of this commitment, our nation's highways are the safest they have ever been and our grocery shelves are stocked. We as a nation owe a great deal to the truck drivers out on our nation's roads everyday."

During National Truck Driver Appreciation Week ATA and its state affiliates will mark the celebration by holding events across the nation.

The celebrations hosted by motor carriers, shippers and other trucking related industries include million-mile and safety awards, cash bonuses or gifts, an extra paid day off, a cup of coffee or windshield cleaning at truck stops, goodie bags with fresh fruit and water, free health checks, and numerous celebration meals — some lasting all week until every driver cycles through company headquarters.

Office personnel at trucking companies are also encouraged to spend a few days out on the road to see the driver's side of their business. Many celebrations are kicked off with a video tribute to the professional truck driver.

The Truckload Carriers Assn. is committed to raising awareness of and fostering action on health and wellness concerns in the trucking industry. TCA Chairman Tom Kretsinger, Jr. says his goal is to extend the life of the professional truck driver. To that end, TCA has broadened the scope of the nation's annual celebration of truck drivers to include health and fitness.

During National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, TCA and state trucking associations will host health fairs and walks, some with well-known trucking leaders/personalities, at TA/Petro locations across the United States (See earlier blog for more information).

ATA offers statistics to showcase the importance of truckers to the economy and highlight their commitment to safety on the nation's highways. Carriers can use these facts in press releases to general media announcing National Truck Driver Appreciation Week activities.

  • There are over 3.4 million professional truck drivers nationwide – delivering the goods U.S. consumers need every day of the year, ATA notes. Logging over 431 billion miles per year, trucks delivered 10.2 billion tons of freight in 2008, or 68.8% of total U.S. freight tonnage.

  • Over the past 20 years (from 1991 to 2010) there has been a 75% increase in the number of registered large trucks. From 2001 to 2010 the number of truck-involved fatalities has fallen by 28% and the number of truck-involved injuries has fallen by 39%.

  • These accomplishments have outpaced improvements made by all vehicles. Even with a 39% increase the number of registered large trucks, truck-involved fatalities have dropped by 27% and injuries have dropped by 34% since the current hours of service rules went into effect (2003 – 2010).

  • In 76% of fatal crashes involving a rear-end collision between a large truck and a passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle rear-ended the truck. In 87% of fatal head-on collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicle encroached into the truck's lane of travel.

  • The trucking industry has a zero tolerance standard in place for drug and alcohol use. The latest violation rate for alcohol use on the job, based on random alcohol testing of truck drivers, is just two-tenth of one percent (0.2 percent).

  • Trucks have overall crash rates less than half that of other vehicles. Driver fatigue (e.g., drowsy, sleepy, asleep, fatigued) was cited as a factor in only 1.6% of fatal truck crashes. However, both FMCSA and ATA have acknowledged that the role of fatigue is likely under-reported. Accordingly, after reviewing other factors, FMCSA has historically stated that 7% is a more accurate estimate.

To learn more about National Truck Driver Appreciation Week visit www.ntdaw.org.

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