At last year’s NASSTRAC Annual Shippers Conference & Transportation Expo, we enjoyed a presentation from the ATA about their “Trucking Moves America Forward” initiative. The mission of Trucking Moves America Forward is to establish a long-term industry-wide movement to create a positive image for the industry, to ensure that policymakers and the public understand the importance of the trucking industry to the nation’s economy, and to build the political and grassroots support necessary to strengthen and grow the industry in the future. This would be a monumental task for any group, but currently, public opinion of the industry hasn’t been in our favor.
Every day millions of trucks travel across our highways bringing goods to markets throughout the US. More than 80 percent of U.S. communities rely solely on trucking for delivery of goods. But very few Americans realize the importance trucking plays in our economy and our lives. They only notice when the store shelves are empty or weather interrupts normal transportation. Even worse, they only notice trucks when they are cut off in traffic, or involved in an accident, or hear on the news about the latest big bad truck that caused a problem. The reality is markedly different from these isolated incidents.
Truck drivers are skilled professionals who are required to follow stringent safety regulations and willingly work with the public to educate them on how to drive with tractor-trailers on the road. Many trucking organizations regularly recognize drivers for accident-free driving records. The trucking industry strives for safer highways and has seen overall declines in truck-related crashes and fatalities over the past decade. So why all the negativity?
I believe we need another feel good movie about the trucking industry. Remember Smokey and the Bandit? That movie made trucking (and CB radios) cool. Since Hollywood loves to jump on bandwagons I’m sure they would be up to the challenge. They also love sequels too. Heck, maybe we can even do a movie about driverless trucks taking over a city…how cool would that be? It could beat Fast and Furious, whatever number they’re at now, at the box office.
The word needs to get out that Trucking stimulates economic activity in every sector of our economy…including health care, fuel and transportation, waste removal, retail, food and agriculture, manufacturing, banking and finance and many others. Trucks drive economic growth and jobs in America—in fact, the industry currently supports almost 7 million jobs, including just over 3 million professional drivers.
The reality is that in today’s environment few people take the time to thoroughly understand complex issues. They want to “learn” quickly in 140 character bits or 30 second sound bites and be entertained in the process. So let’s entertain them…anyone in Hollywood listening?