Heavy Duty Trucking – Backbone of the Economy

I’ve had a couple conversations recently where the topic turned to the emotional satisfaction that comes from working in the trucking industry. Turns out, I’m not alone in my pride in what we truck industry veterans have achieved personally, and as an industry.

Is this view surprising? I realize the conventional image of trucking is far from glamorous. Someday I may explore the reasons, many of which are outdated or misguided. Do you know what I mean? Images of soot-belching exhaust stacks and overweight, hyper-aggressive drivers … why are these the dominant images of the trucking industry? Those images do not conform to reality. On the contrary, there are regions of this country where the exhaust from newer trucks is cleaner than the intake air! And truck drivers? Due to today's CSA regulations, they run safe, or they risk losing their jobs.

For my part, the image of trucking is intimately connected to its importance to commerce and the economy. Without trucking, the lifestyle we take for granted in North America ceases to exist.

Take a look around your house. Take a look at your house. Is there any part of your household that was not delivered in whole or in part, by truck? Every article, from the mundane to the most valuable arrived at its present location courtesy of commercial vehicles, and most notably the heavy duty on-highway truck. Trucking is in fact essential, not only to our quality of life, but to the health of our national economy, and ultimately, our national security.

To be part of the North American Trucking industry is to be part of a vast network of companies, using fascinating technology and great people, to deliver a fundamental service – the movement of goods. The simplest articles – from paper to computer chips, animal feed and potato chips – arrive where needed solely through the use of safe, reliable, clean, and efficient ... trucks. Along the way, a huge number of people are employed –drivers, mechanics, logistics experts and engineers; financiers, supply chain managers and factory employees – to name just a fraction. The amount of jobs supporting the trucking industry numbers in the millions, and the vast majority of those jobs offer steady employment with competitive wages and benefits.

The industry happens to be an outstanding showcase for the free market system. How is it that you or I can walk into our corner drugstore or local supermarket, and find the exact household product we need – at a price we can afford? The broader question will have to remain unanswered; this is not an essay on capitalism. I am fascinated though at the overall efficiency of a transportation system that can support the amazingly complex distribution of goods to communities, small and large, to the tune of trillions of dollars annually.

So maybe in the midst of these thoughts is some kernel of insight as to why I, and many of my peers, am incredibly proud to be part of the trucking industry. No, it’s not glamorous. But it is vitally important. At the same time, it is Efficient. Safe. Clean. And the technology, whether it is found in the vehicles, diagnostic equipment, or telematics, is impressive. Yes, I live in the Seattle area, and at various times I could have transitioned to a career at Boeing, Microsoft, or Starbucks. No Thanks … I’ll take trucks!!

Later this month I’ll be at TMC in Nashville, as well as the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville. I look forward to seeing friends, but I will also walk away proud of our many accomplishments as an industry. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to see trucks in a new way, and to share some of that pride. Truck On!

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