This year, while you’re on the way to a barbeque, kids sporting event or heading away on a holiday getaway, you’ll be sharing the road with millions of Americans traveling during the busiest season.
As one of 3.5 million professional truck drivers on America’s roads, I’ll be joining you on the road too, I deliver the goods you rely on.
Making holidays special is due in large part to the trucking industry.
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, more than 84 of Arizona communities rely exclusively on trucks for the delivery of everyday goods.
Arizona’s professional truck drivers travel over 6.7 billion miles year-round to deliver everything we rely on, including our food, medication, clothing and gas.
The trucking industry is a strong contributor to our economy, supplying goods and jobs to local businesses and communities.
Here in Arizona, the trucking industry provides one out of every 21 jobs, thanks to 8,530 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 Association 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 Arizona.
Professional truck drivers have suffered from unfair and outdated stigmas over the past few decades, which led to a decreased number of drivers in the industry, especially among younger generations.
Trucking Moves America Forward, an industry-wide movement, has worked to change the misguided view of truck drivers by educating the public on the positive contributions hardworking truck drivers make to our communities and economy.
TMAF’s research earlier this year found, 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 who know someone in the trucking industry believe the industry’s safety record has gotten better over the last 20 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 truck drivers, there would be no deliveries to businesses, hospitals or schools. Imagine no medicine or food deliveries.
Our lives – and our state’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.
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.
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 generation along with 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.
Steve Smalley of Mesa is a professional truck driver with ABF Freight and a member of Trucking Moves America Forward.