A still from a video released by hiring and recruiting company Fastport for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week shows a tractor trailer plowing through flood waters to deliver supplies.

Thanking truck drivers for the vital work many don't see

Sept. 13, 2015
A decade since Katrina, trucking's role every day and during crisis spotlighted

This year, there's been a theme of telling about the job that often goes unnoticed. The trucking industry is helping shine the light on the key role truck drivers play in transporting supplies and goods of all kinds — especially when it matters most — in recognizing National Truck Driver Appreciation Week Sept. 13-19.

Coinciding with the week, the nation marks a decade since Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf of Mexico and caused flooding in many areas along the Gulf Coast from Aug. 25-31, 2005, and Hurricane Rita followed three weeks later. Trucking was critical in getting aid and supplies through to hard-hit areas.

"Ten years ago, we had no idea what was to come and how the week's events would forever change our lives," the Louisiana Motor Transportation Association notes. "Hours after the storm passed and flood waters began to wreak havoc on New Orleans, the first mode of transportation able to get into the area was trucks filled with needed supplies — food, water and ice the highest priority."

"Then came airplanes, ships and trains . . . we all worked together in the greatest example of the effectiveness of intermodalism," according to the group. Along with many others, the organization is hosting an event this week in honor of truck drivers.

In a similar vein, Fastport, a trucking-specific recruiting and hiring company, released a video for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week depicting some of the work truck drivers do that's often taken for granted (see below). Scenes show things like milk and other goods heading to supermarkets and schoolkids getting on buses; viewers see dramatic footage of trucks pushing through high flood waters and blizzards to deliver goods and aid.

"At every moment, night or day, we move your world — from everyday items to the most precious — over the tallest mountains, through the worst weather," a message in the video reads. "When you need us most, we are always moving — into the crisis instead of away, delivering life-saving supplies, rebuilding broken dreams.

"And when the unimaginable happens, we pick up the pieces and carry them home," the video's message continues. "Then we turn our trucks around to rebuild, to raise us up."

These organizations and others add their voices to the American Trucking Assns.' (ATA) campaign for the week, helping bring recognition of the event outside the industry to the mainstream. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves emphasizes that point in a statement marking the start of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

ATA President Bill Graves thanks truck drivers in a video marking the start of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

"At ATA, we celebrate your work each and every day. But during this week, we're very pleased to join with over 300 million Americans who say thanks — thanks for putting food and clothing on the store shelves, delivering medicines that help us heal, and every other product and item that contributes to the quality of life and greatness of America that we enjoy," Graves states.  

Videos from ATA marking the week highlight trucking's critical role in the nation's supply chain "in good times and in bad," folding in themes of workforce diversity, safety and patriotism. Women and minority truck drivers are featured among the drivers in the videos declaring their pride in their work.

"I deliver America's food, America's fuel, America's furniture," drivers take turns saying in the videos. "If you've got it, I brought it," another adds, as each continues the message. "I am the safest driver on the road; I keep America moving. I'm proud to be America's truck driver."

During the Sept. 13-19 week and beyond, TravelCenters of America and Pilot Flying J are among those prominently celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Pilot Flying J locations are offering truck drivers prizes and giveaways during the week, and drivers who stop at TravelCenters' TA and Petro locations may stumble into things like live music and games as well as health fairs offering blood pressure screening and glucose testing, courtesy of the Truckload Carriers Association.

TravelCenters of America is also promoting awareness of the work truck drivers do that often goes unnoticed altogether. "You might not realize it, but trucking is one of our country's most essential professions," states a video the company released for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

"Think about it: Trucking delivers 70% of the freight tonnage to 80% of the nation's cities, towns and villages — the things we want, the things we need and the things we can't live without," the message continues. "It's about respect. We appreciate professional drivers today and every day."

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