Truck drivers have always been essential, and that has never been clearer than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing regional haul rather than long haul trucking is just one way to support these heroes.
Those of us who are in the trucking industry have long recognized the hard work done by the men and women who driver commercial vehicles. For the rest, COVID-19 opened a lot of people’s eyes to just how vital truck drivers are to our nation’s economy and in keeping store shelves filled with the things we need — and want.
Truckers worked tirelessly in the initial days of the pandemic to bring personal protective equipment, groceries, sanitizing products, and much more from factory floors and warehouses to stores across the country and homes. There was a great deal of uncertainty about getting goods delivered while keeping drivers and customers safe. But the industry rallied and made investments in PPE and took steps to make sure trucks were cleaned and sanitized to help protect drivers.
E-commerce, which was already growing, blossomed during the pandemic and furthered the trend toward more final mile and regional haul, meaning a haul that is within one driving day from a fleet’s location.
Why does this matter? Fleets have realized that more and more drivers don’t want to be out on the road for weeks on end; they much prefer to be home if not every night then at least several times a week. Recognizing the value drivers contribute to the success of their operations, fleet operators have adjusted their business model to see that drivers get home to be with their families a more regular basis.
But make no mistake, even driving in regional haul is hard work. These drivers are often challenged with having to drive on local roads and in more traffic as they maneuver in cities and towns to make their deliveries. In some cases, they actually load and unload their own freight.
Everyday truck drivers are on the road no matter what the weather brings, no matter the condition of the infrastructure, no matter how many detours or how much traffic. They do what they do so we can have the things we need and want when we need and want them.
The week of September 13-19 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, when we will take time to honor all professional truck drivers for their hard work and dedication to keeping the shelves full even during very trying times. The reality is that this year, more than ever, we should be thanking drivers each and every day. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis they have continued to get behind the wheel of their rigs despite the potential health and safety implications. They should be counted among the heroes who made sacrifices for us during the pandemic.
Please remember that next time you are on the road and see a truck driver; stop and say thanks and let them know you really appreciate all they do for us not just one week out of the year but every day no matter what.