Trucking Is an Essential American Industry That Continues to Need Our Support
COMMENTARY

September 5, 2023by Kevin Burch, Co-Chair, Trucking Moves America Forward
Trucking Is an Essential American Industry That Continues to Need Our Support

Trucking is the critical link in our supply chain, making the final delivery of many of the goods that American families rely on, from the food in our refrigerators and the gas in our cars to the medicine and supplies at our local pharmacies and hospitals. America’s 3.5 million professional truck drivers traveled over 327 billion miles collectively in 2022 to move our nation’s goods.

The impact of trucking is felt in every corner of our country as the industry is responsible for moving more than 72% of our nation’s freight. The reality is that if the trucking industry suddenly ground to a halt, the dire consequences in our lives would be felt within just 24 hours. The short-term impacts range from empty grocery store shelves and fuel shortages to depleted cash supplies in ATMs. Within a few weeks, America’s clean water supply would run dry. 

While we see trucks on a regular basis, we don’t always appreciate their value or stop to think about how essential the trucking industry is to our lives, communities and economy; and we don’t always stop to say thank you to the drivers who make those deliveries possible. But trucking is truly the backbone of our country. If trucking stops, America stops.

That is why America’s professional truck drivers take great pride in their job. The hardworking men and women of the trucking industry understand that the deliveries they make every day keep America moving forward, and the industry, supported by more than 8.4 million hardworking professionals, remains steadfast in its mission to deliver the goods our nation relies on.

But the industry increasingly faces challenges that threaten its ability to deliver the goods our nation depends on. Highway congestion and the resulting bottlenecks from outdated infrastructure networks result in less productivity, which is particularly harmful for the trucking industry given that most trucking companies are small businesses: 95.8% of trucking companies operate 10 or fewer trucks, and 99.7% operate 100 or fewer trucks.

The industry is also facing a record-high shortage in truck drivers as many drivers retire or otherwise leave the industry. Research from the American Trucking Associations found that there is a current a shortage of more than 78,000 truck drivers, citing the need for the industry to hire 1.2 million new drivers over the next decade to meet rising freight demands.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, hosted this year Sept. 10-16, is a timely reminder for all Americans to reflect on the essential role that America’s professional truck drivers play in keeping our lives supplied and our country moving forward, despite all the challenges facing the industry. This important annual awareness week is an opportunity to thank America’s truck drivers for their vital contributions to our daily lives and economy.

Our federal and state policymakers have always been strong allies in supporting America’s trucking industry, but there is always more that can be done at all levels of government to ensure that the trucking industry remains strong. From investments in our critical infrastructure, to policies that support workforce development, lawmakers can help ensure that the trucking industry is able to continue to make deliveries to the more than 80% of American communities that rely solely on trucking for the delivery of their goods.

This National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, I hope you will join me in thanking America’s professional truck drivers and their families for their invaluable contributions to our lives. Truck drivers are America’s unsung heroes and deserve our continuous support, not just once in a while, but every day.


Kevin Burch is co-chair of Trucking Moves America Forward and vice president of Sales & Governmental Affairs at Martin Transportation Systems. TMAF can be reached on X (formerly known as Twitter).

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