American Truckers: The Unsung Heroes of Our Nation

Lukas Gojda /
Lukas Gojda /
One of the most valuable lessons learned amidst the turmoil caused by the pandemic has been the importance of those unsung heroes who contribute significantly to maintaining the smooth functioning of our community and economy. During the crisis, truck drivers emerged as frontline workers, delivering supplies to stores and hospital facilities while facing various hurdles. Their dedication deserved recognition; however, the significance of being considered ‘‘essential” goes much further than just the immediate circumstances.

Statistics provided below illustrate how deeply interwoven the trucking sector is within our everyday existence:

  • Approximately 11.46 billion tons of goods travel via trucks each year.
  • Over 80% of US communities depend solely on trucks for receiving their merchandise.
  • Nearly 14 million trucks operate within the United States.
  • An estimated 327.48 billion miles are traversed by trucks annually.
  • More than 8.4 million employees worked in trucking-associated positions in 2022, excluding freelancers.

Recognition of trucking’s irreplaceability led the American Trucking Association (ATA) to launch a multifaceted marketing campaign called “Nothing Without Trucking.” Its purpose is twofold—to inform lawmakers and citizens about the pivotal roles played by the trucking industry and its personnel.

Debuted at the ATA’s Mid-Year Management Session, the project encompasses an introduction film, a dedicated webpage filled with sharable digital material, and requests for testimonials from advocacy groups.

ATA President Chris Spear highlighted the unity inherent within the trucking business, stating:

“In an election year when it can feel our country is more polarized than ever, trucking is an incomparable industry that connects Americans of every background in ways that are literal, essential, and personal. Our footprint is omnipresent, our reach is inescapable, and this campaign will show why trucking is the true beating heart of this nation.”

Spear continued, expressing his vision of using this campaign to demonstrate the profound impact of trucking on both local and national levels.

Meanwhile, COO Sarah Rajtik discussed the necessity of clear communication with legislative bodies regarding the trucking industry’s intricacies.

“Essentially, we felt it was time to be very direct with the policymakers about what trucking really does. The tireless work of this industry instills a quiet confidence in every American that we can effortlessly get the products and goods we need precisely when we need them.”

While the trucking sector holds immense value, it encounters several challenges posed by newly introduced rules. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency recently released guidelines requiring nearly half of all heavy-duty vehicles to transition toward zero-emissions models by 2032. However, achieving these targets seems impractical due to insufficient charging infrastructure and immature zero-emission technologies.

Moreover, another issue arises from the Department of Labor introducing modifications to labor laws surrounding independent contractor classification. Some truck operators might face difficulties retaining their contractual status based on requirements related to vehicle ownership and skill utilization. These alterations pose potential risks to companies dealing with employee recruitment and overall fleet management.

These concerns contrast sharply with the Biden Administration’s earlier statements supporting trucking industries and tackling existing problems. Additionally, the field already grapples with extensive governmental oversight aimed predominantly at promoting roadway security.