By Tom McLeod
I’s difficult to believe that it has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit America, closing businesses, stalling commerce and keeping people home. For frontline workers, like truck drivers, the pandemic has only intensified their work, and one year may seem like two. Truck drivers are in harm’s way every day in the middle of a devastating viral disease.
Despite the dangers, the trucking industry remains resilient during this pandemic at every stage. During the early weeks of the outbreak, America’s 3.6 million truck drivers ensured stores were stocked, hospitals were supplied, and first responders were equipped. While some Americans have taken steps to show their appreciation for truck drivers, most do not realize how essential the industry is to their daily lives until a crisis hits.
The trucking industry is the backbone of America — keeping our lives, businesses and economy moving forward every day by safely delivering everything we rely on. From the delivery of today’s most critical supplies, such as the coronavirus vaccine, to the delivery of daily essential goods, including the food on your table, clothes on your back and fuel in your car, all of these items were brought to our communities by a truck. As a matter of fact, nearly every good that is consumed in the U.S. was put on a truck at some point. The critical link between a stocked grocery store or pharmacy, and a consumer, is an American truck driver.
From every product to every place, trucking delivers to every corner of America. In fact, 80 percent of American communities rely solely on trucking for their deliveries. And now, with online shopping more prevalent than ever as consumers limit their trips to the store, more Americans are relying on deliveries made directly to their doorstep.
From every place to every sector, trucking is vital to the U.S. and global supply chain serving as the last mile of deliveries from every industry: retail, agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare.
Trucking is the prime mover of our nation’s freight. In 2019 alone, the trucking industry hauled over 72 percent of all freight, which equates to over 11.8 billion tons.
At a time, when jobs have been diminished, the trucking industry also contributes greatly to the American workforce and economy, creating millions of jobs and career opportunities in communities small and large. In Alabama, trucking provides 109,980 jobs. Today, the trucking industry is supported by nearly 8 million professionals nationwide, including drivers, technicians, vendors and partners. Overall, the industry contributes over $791 billion in revenue to our nation’s economy each year. Meanwhile, Alabama trucking businesses contribute $629 million in taxes to state coffers.
As we enter year two of the pandemic, truck drivers will continue to load up and transport the COVID-19 vaccines, PPE and hand sanitizer to America’s stores along with consumers’ favorite items such as smartphones, puzzles, personal grooming products, beverages and snacks, to their homes. It’s times like these, I feel especially proud to be a part of the trucking industry and working alongside America’s professional truck drivers, our country’s unsung heroes.
One year ago, at the start of the pandemic in the U.S., trucking never stopped. With continual new factors emerging, such as new virus variants and the many vaccine distribution challenges, times will remain uncertain. But one thing’s for certain: The trucking industry will continue to be there for Americans like we always have. Be sure to thank a trucker today.
Tom McLeod is the founder and president of McLeod Software, a leading supplier of transportation management and trucking software for carriers, brokers and shippers. He is also the current Chairman of the Board for the Alabama Trucking Association, which supports and promotes Alabama’s trucking industry through advocacy, training, and the successful implementation of programs including the ATA Comp Fund, Safety & Maintenance Management Council, TRUK PAC, and the ATA Foundation.