Some automobile drivers on the road have a fear of semi-trucks. After all, they’re big, powerful, and a bit overwhelming when they show up in your rearview mirror. There’s also a mystique that surrounds the American trucker: a modern version of the rough and tumble cowboy, driving their thousand-pound herd over the asphalt trails. The modern operator, however, is a very different breed from stereotypes of the past.
The Family Man & Woman
Modern operators still tend to be men, but women are increasingly making their mark on the profession as both solo and team drivers, (making up about 6% of the nation’s on-the-road workforce). Logistics companies have also created appealing benefits packages, as driver shortages have led companies to compete to attract more, and better operators. These packages have led to more time off the road, as well as more dedicated routes for the nation’s pool of operators. This means that drivers spend more time at home and in the community, as well as more time getting to know their dedicated routes. All of these changes have converged to create a class of driver that is committed, loyal, and service-oriented both on and off the road.
Ready to Help
Searching the internet can pull up numerous anecdotal incidents where drivers have taken time from their route to help a stranded driver or intervene in a dangerous situation. For example, this past April in the Detroit Metro area, a man began pacing the side of an overpass, threatening to jump. Metro Police closed the overpass, but were scrambling to find a way to deal with the interstate below. That’s when some concerned drivers got organized and involved. In fact, 13 operators pulled their trailers underneath the overpass on both sides of the interstate. This not only helped to maintain the safety of all drivers on the interstate, but created a barrier that significantly shortened the distance that the potential jumper had to fall. According to the story on CBSNews.com, police flagged down the first few trailers, but once news spread, drivers took the initiative to close the opposite of the interstate, helping to further de-escalate the situation. These drivers were concerned enough about this man to put their routes (and livelihoods) on hold for hours to help one man, and the passing motorists, stay safe.
Truckers Against Trafficking
Drives are a dedicated and connected group of people that take a practical, “boots on the ground” approach to making a difference. They have also created numerous organizations acrosse the country to help the public good, such as the organization Truckers Against Trafficking. This group has registered and trained over 560,000 operators to spot the signs of human trafficking as they run their routes. These dedicated and concerned professionals have helped local and federal agencies to open nearly 560 cases, and have identified over 1,000 trafficking victims. Members are concerned volunteers who simply want to make a positive difference in the lives of others from their unique vantage-point on the road. (For more information or to donate, visit www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org ).
The trucking industry has also been influential in helping create safer highways for the average driver. In fact, industry officials are major forces of change when it comes to improved guardrails, rumble strips, and other safety measures we take for granted every day. Industry input also helps to shape legislator views on proposed changes to speed limits and traffic patterns, both of which make our lives safer and more convenient. Finally, the trucking industry is also constantly finding ways to keep other drivers safe when they do happen to have an accident with one of those big, powerful trailers, such as the development of improved rear and new side, under-ride guards.
Some trucking companies focus on giving their drivers and other staff opportunities for community service and involvement. For example, Carter Logistics LLC president and CEO, John Paugh, was honored in 2017 as a “Distinguished Citizen” in Madison County, IN, for his continuing work in growing future community leaders with the Boy Scouts of America. Carter also supports the Madison County Human Society, United Way, and other local charities, as well as national organizations, such as Driving Hope and Wreathes Across America. While Carter’s story is unique, other stories of service and community involvement echo across the industry.
The bottom line? Trucking industry companies and operators are creating a culture of safety and service that spans our nation’s highways and our communities. So, the next time you feel that urge to hit the gas when you pull up next to a trailer on the interstate, relax, and know they’re looking out for you.