We are celebrating Truck Driver Appreciation Week with five reasons to thank a trucker and five ways to do it.
Truck drivers carry 73% of American cargo. They are the prime movers of our economy, literally.
With so many goods shipped throughout the country, most communities and businesses would not survive without truck drivers. Drivers are the reason why we enjoy online shopping, retailing, healthcare, construction, agriculture and electronics. Every single product you can think of in the market is most likely delivered by a truck driver.
In honor of our 3.5 million hard working countrymen in the trucking industry, we would like to take a moment to open your eyes to the realities of a trucker's world so you too can appreciate the services that are often underrated.
5 Struggles Faced by Truck Drivers
1.Driving for Long Hours at Odd Times
A driver's schedule is dictated by their delivery requirements, the whims of mother nature and a little bit of fate. Some drivers start their work very early and some begin late at night when roads are clear. Some drivers work for 70 hours over an eight-day shift and drive for more than 10 hours a day just to get the job done. Truck drivers work shifts that can compare to the demands of emergency medical professionals like ER nurses and trauma surgeons.
Consider this for just a moment the next time a package shows up at your door or you notice your favorite peanut butter is out of stock. Many hours of driving led to that convenience for you.
2. Unpredictable income with highs and lows.
Because a truck driver’s pay is mostly based on the number of miles they drive, work can be affected by unforseeable circumstances, from delivery-time issues to natural disasters. Many non-CDL drivers don't realize that there are times when a trucker must drive more miles than their haul is paying them for.
Workers across industries experience unpaid hours here and there, but these hours can be especially trying for truck drivers because they often come along with distance from family and friends, making the unpaid time harder to swallow.
3. Health Issues
In addition to the long hours, truck driver's work environment can put them at odds with healthy lifestyle choices. While driving OTR, or over the road, drivers do not often have access to healthy meal options. Drivers mostly eat high-calorie, low-nourishment snacks and meals that are convenient and easy to eat while on the go.
The job of a driver requires sitting for long hours without exercise. Combine this with poor food options and you are looking at a host of potential health conditions. They are not treated or diagnosed immediately because its hard to schedule a doctor's appointment with a driver's unique schedule. Drivers have to push themselves the extra mile and find innovative ways to eat better and move more.
Working as a truck driver means spending less time with one’s family. Even a regular schedule for coming home is not possible. This makes it difficult for families to create strong bonds. A truck driver misses his child’s first milestones, birthdays, anniversaries and other important events that other families get to celebrate together.
5. Road Dangers
Traveling across the country means that you travel across tight curves, steep slopes, narrow cliffs and other dangerous routes. Although a truck driver must observe safety at all times, accidents and disasters along the road are inevitable. Drivers must drive during the most dangerous hours to be on the road, reported as late Thursday night and Friday early mornings.
Truck drivers are a rarely mentioned part of the conversion for first responder relief during natural disasters. During Hurricane Harvey, truck drivers came to the rescue and saved hundreds, if not thousands, of Texans.
5 Ways To Really Say Thanks to a Trucker
Companies and trucking organizations are already doing their part in appreciating their fleet of drivers during Truck Driver Appreciation Week. However, the appreciation and respect for these men and women should not be limited to a week but to be practiced all year round.
Can I get an Amen?
1.Respect Drivers and Their Time
Truck driver usually have tight schedules to follow. A delay in one part of a trip will delay the rest, resulting in missing another day that should be spent with family and friends. When working with truck drivers, always be mindful of their schedule and respect that they as a company, truck drivers the front line to your product's delivery and they are an essential part of your profit cycle. Just like drivers literally go the extra mile to get your product delivered, trucking companies should go the extra mile to compensate for the domino effect that happens with botched load times.
2. Be Fair
Aside from the time and schedule, be fair when working with drivers. Be honest about the freight involved and do not put the truck driver in a situation that will risk his job and his life. If a certain cargo is stated to be at a certain weight, quantity and description, make sure that it is the right one and avoid confusion between both parties. If construction, weather or other issues cause a real problem with delivery times, accept that the truck driver is the one out there doing his best to make money and get home.
Bottom line: Do not question the truck driver's judgement!
3. Give Drivers The Help They Need
After a long drive, offer real opportunities for rest and support for your truck driver employee, family member or friend. If they needed to use company facilities or a snack and coffee, generously provide for small necessities. Give them a chance to rest and recuperate before they get back on the road.
When a driver comes home after a long time away, be sure to give them opportunities to connect AND opportunities for stillness. Let your truck driver family member or friend lead their activities at home. Help them schedule doctor's appointments and keep track of annual wellness checks. Step up to the plate and be a real place for support and serenity.
Drivers may not talk about the challenges they face while working, but your extra support will go a long way.
4. Remember Trucking is Families
Truck drivers are just like everyone who long to be with their families at the end of the day. When creating a schedule for the truck driver, consider his preferences in case he has important family events and gatherings to attend to. All it takes is a little bit of compromise on both parts in order to come up with the best schedule that will create a win-win situation.
5. Hear Drivers Out
A message to managers and dispatchers: Encourage drivers to ask questions and clarify the things that they are not sure of. Build a relationship with them to make them feel comfortable enough to speak up when something is not right. Whether the issue is about their truck, other equipment or co-worker, make sure issues are heard. This will drivers feel valued and in turn, most drivers are happy to offer their full loyalty.
Make sure that you are able to make a truck driver feel appreciated this week. Make it a point to go out of your way to say thank you. Even a simple greeting and acknowledgement can go a long way when it comes to making someone feel good about what they do.