It’s a tough job, and it seems that most people just don’t understand the pressures, overabundance of regulations, time away from home and daily frustrations that truckers endure. But plenty of others do — and are thankful for the nation’s truck drivers every day of the week.
Happy National Truck Driver Appreciation Week to truckers all across the country. Let’s take it one day at a time, and list just seven of the many people who get you:
1 – Family
The happiness that wives/husbands/children feel when their driver gets home always comes with the knowledge that the reunion is temporary, and another load will take them away in a matter of days. Sometimes, spouses take on co-worker role, either at home or on the road. No matter how deep their involvement in the actual work,family understands more than anyone what a driver does to support them.
Overdrive runs a regular column by Wendy Parker, a nurse who started riding with her trucker husband about five years ago. She has watched him move from company driver to owner-operator with his own authority, and the more she sees on the road, the more she appreciates all truck drivers, but especially the one sitting beside her.
“I love my trucker,” she says.
2 – Small, Out-of-the-Way Towns
The TV show Ice Road Truckers showed just how much the remote areas of Canada and Alaska depend on truckers and welcome their arrival. One recent traveler, marveling at the Yukon scenery and the difficulties of navigating the terrain long ago, also realized: “Today, our modern adventurers, the truck drivers, who deliver vital goods through all weathers, winter and summer, contend with difficult roads and weather conditions relying upon machinery and skill to get them safely to their destination.”
A town doesn’t need to be that isolated to feel thankful toward drivers though. The community college in Hudson, North Carolina, held a truck driver appreciation event designed with a local business to thank truckers and encourage others to consider the job. Waupun, Wisconsin, has celebrated truck drivers with a big event for 27 straight years.
The little town of Weed (in California of all places!) recently bucked the trend of cities deciding to ban truck parking and set in motion a plan to double the number of truck parking spaces.
“I recognized that it was a key industry in our community and we needed to address some of the drivers’ needs,” Weed City Manager Ron Stock told Fleet Owner.
3 – Little Kids with Big Dreams
Get drivers into a reminiscing mood and a good number of them will recall loving big rigs as a kid. They owned a huge collection of toy trucks that they played with constantly. They jumped up and down whenever a truck passed, and always pumped their arm to get the driver to honk the horn.
That’s still true today. Little kids love trucks and truckers. They see a hero in the driver’s seat. And they are right.
Truck drivers are some of the most generous people around when it comes to children. From helping with their education through Trucker Buddy, to supporting the young athletes of the Special Olympics to just plain being wonderful to children anywhere (See story # 18).
4 – Businesses That Serve Truckers
A cynic might say that truck stops, repair shops, electronics shops and others that sell products to truck drivers appreciate a trucker’s wallet. No doubt there are plenty of places that fit that description. But most successful businesses actually know and respect their customers.. And those that cater to the nation’s truckers are well aware of all that their customers do.
Whether they choose National Truck Driver Appreciation Week or a different time entirely, customer appreciation events are common. Some single out outstanding drivers with a prestigious annual award. Others recognize truck drivers throughout the year.
But most of all, the best of these companies are dedicated to finding ways to make a trucker’s job and life a little easier — and that is a form of appreciation as well as good business.
5 – Disaster Area Residents and Businesses
It is the common reaction of the trucking community. After Hurricane Katrina, the Port of New Orleans put out a call for drivers. After tornadoes devastated parts of Oklahoma, truckers lined up to get them food, water and supplies.
When the trucks roll in, recovery from disaster begins. Residents, weary but grateful, welcome these truck drivers, hug on them, thank them, appreciate what they are doing to help.
6 – Gamers
Some of those little kids who love trucks never grow out of their fascination with big rigs. Maybe they become drivers themselves. Maybe they just indulge in a bit of virtual trucking.
The video game inventors behind the American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2 games did their research and made the game as true to the landscape, equipment and job of trucking as possible. The Independent European Transport Training Association gave the game and award for “promoting the benefits of training and education among young prospective truck drivers
But there are a number of other popular trucking games, too, with devoted players who get a kick out of guiding a big rig (online) successfully. Who knows, these could be the people who end up with those autonomous trucks of the future.
7 – Trucking Companies
Small, medium, large or immense — trucking companies are not trucking companies without their drivers and they know that. Many make an extra effort to recognize or reward their truck drivers and celebrate their successes.
USA Truck responded when drivers asked to take a pet on the road with them, and changed policy.
“Our drivers are out on the road months at a time or weeks at a time,” the company’s VP of safety and recruiting told an Arkansas newspaper. “So we wanted to give them the opportunity to have some of the those comforts of home and have a pet on board with them. It’s something that’s been important. The drivers have been asking for this.”
Freymiller created its own digital radio station for drivers, playing country music, recognizing drivers with great safety records and bringing some into the studio.
“We want the general public to hear this as well, because you don’t have to be a driver to listen to our radio,” company chairman Don Freymiller told CCJ Digital. “We are trying to put the awareness out there about trucking’s essential role in our economy.”