The trucking industry has been experiencing turmoil for quite awhile, and I understand why. As we heap praise on those who work at many other hazardous occupations, we take truck drivers for granted. I have spent more time on the road watching trucks plodding along at all hours of the night than I care to remember. It makes me think about how often people place orders demanding immediate delivery without considering that some driver will have to drive all night long and disrupt his life so the delivery will arrive on time.
Many years ago, I was in Upstate New York driving through the evening in a terrible snowstorm. I wanted to be on time to see a customer early the next day. The driving was horrendous and the visibility was often only a few feet. I got behind a big truck and followed at a snail’s pace for several hours to make it to my destination.
The next morning when I arrived on time at the account, I was escorted into the purchasing agent’s room. He was on the phone, and I couldn’t avoid overhearing the conversation. Apparently, a delivery had been delayed a few hours. The agent was ripping everyone he could reach about the delayed shipment. He had no idea what that trucker went through to deliver his order only a few hours late. Fortunately, the order wasn’t mine. Since that experience, I have had a much greater appreciation of truckers.
Truckers go through that same scenario every day. Many have no benefits and the possibility of a pension after twenty years is beyond their wildest dreams. They are happy if they have any benefits and a secure job. Nonetheless, they have one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, and knowingly put their lives at risk to assure that our deliveries arrive when promised. They do this more often than not, and repeatedly have to deal with the backlash from distraught customers if their shipments are late.
The drivers are upset because they are forced to adhere to federal regulations that have been imposed on them without truckers being involved in the decision making process. My experience with truckers is that they will do whatever is necessary to deliver an order on time even if they are required to drive twenty-four hours straight to accomplish the task. If they are occasionally late, it is usually not because of their lack of effort.
My comments here are not about regulations and the reason for them or about what is a safe amount time for a driver to be behind the wheel. My comments are to make people aware that we are spoiled and have taken our dedicated truckers for granted for far too long. They move our goods around the country and keep commerce alive without the appreciation they deserve.
When you go to bed tonight, take a moment to think of all the truckers who are away from their families, driving down the highway just to deliver your orders on time. It’s time we recognized these American heroes who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.