Truck­ing de­liv­ers the hol­i­days

If you bought it, a truck brought it

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Kevin Burch Kevin Burch is chair­man of the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tions.

Fam­ily gatherings with a de­li­cious turkey on the ta­ble. Friends and com­mu­ni­ties join­ing to­gether for hol­i­day tra­di­tions. Stores and side­walks bustling as we shop for presents to ex­change with loved ones. Wreaths on doors and or­nate dec­o­ra­tions light­ing up down­towns.

Th­ese are just some of the images I think about when the hol­i­day sea­son is upon us. And no mat­ter who you are, which hol­i­days you cel­e­brate or where you’re from, all of th­ese images share some­thing in com­mon — they’re all made pos­si­ble by truck­ing.

The fact is, truck­ing touches ev­ery as­pect of the hol­i­days — and it goes be­yond stock­ing gro­cery store shelves or de­liv­er­ing that per­fect gift. In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing all those goods and cargo, truck­ing keeps your fam­ily mem­bers mov­ing on the roads for that spe­cial time to­gether by en­sur­ing our gas sta­tions are am­ply stocked with fuel.

The truck­ing in­dus­try is proud to de­liver the hol­i­days, and we rec­og­nize the enor­mous re­spon­si­bil­ity that comes with it. When more than 100 mil­lion driv­ers are on the road this sea­son — as AAA fore­casted for yearend hol­i­days last year — they’ll be driv­ing along­side nearly 3.5 mil­lion pro­fes­sional truck driv­ers. That’s why pro­fes­sional truck driv­ers are trained and ded­i­cated to en­sur­ing the safety of all mo­torists on the road, and why the in­dus­try as a whole in­vests $9.5 bil­lion each year in safety. The in­vest­ment spans all facets of truck­ing safety, in­clud­ing driver train­ing, com­pli­ance with safety rules, on­board safety tech­nol­ogy, and awards and bonus pay for im­proved safety per­for­mances.

There’s no doubt that the in­vest­ment is pay­ing off. The U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion re­ports that trucks have a crash rate that is 28 per­cent lower than that of other ve­hi­cles. The fa­tal crash rate has fallen 74 per­cent since 1980, and that fig­ure has dropped 17 per­cent in the last decade alone. Fur­ther, trucks are prin­ci­pally at fault in only 25 per­cent of fa­tal car-truck crashes. This im­prove­ment comes even as the truck­ing in­dus­try is ex­pand­ing, by op­er­at­ing an ad­di­tional 2.7 mil­lion trucks and driv­ing bil­lions of ad­di­tional miles each year.

In ad­di­tion to keep­ing our roads safe — dur­ing the hol­i­days and through­out the year — truck­ing works to bet­ter our com­mu­ni­ties. Many fam­i­lies and or­ga­ni­za­tions an­swer a call to ser­vice dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, and the truck­ing in­dus­try is no ex­cep­tion.

To kick off a re­cent work re­treat, dozens of truck­ing in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives came to­gether to vol­un­teer at the Capi­tol Area Food Bank in North­east Wash­ing­ton, D.C. There, we sorted var­i­ous cook­ing and food items into large bins, then packed those items into in­di­vid­ual boxes. Next, we stacked the boxes on pal­lets, which were loaded into the back of a truck and de­liv­ered to dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters through­out the Wash­ing­ton metro area. A few hours of ser­vice and gen­eros­ity will now pro­vide fes­tive sea­sonal meals for hun­dreds of un­der­served fam­i­lies in our na­tion’s cap­i­tal. It is true that the truck­ing in­dus­try is a vi­tal part of de­liv­er­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, but this re­cent day of vol­un­teer­ing is an­other ex­am­ple of the hu­man el­e­ment that our in­dus­try brings to the hol­i­day sea­son.

The list of good deeds goes on, and it spans truck­ing-re­lated com­pa­nies of all kinds, at the com­mu­nity level all over the coun­try. Dozens of truck­ing-in­dus­try or­ga­ni­za­tions and state-level truck­ing as­so­ci­a­tions are get­ting in­volved in ev­ery­thing from Toys for Tots and Adopt-a-Fam­ily ef­forts to as­sist­ing food banks, schools and the lo­cal Sal­va­tion Army to en­sure chil­dren and fam­i­lies are cared for dur­ing the hol­i­days.

From safety to ser­vice, the truck­ing in­dus­try is ded­i­cated to en­sur­ing the hol­i­days hap­pen for all of us. It’s the only in­dus­try that can say it di­rectly ships to ev­ery com­mu­nity in Amer­ica, help­ing to make this time of the year brighter for all fam­i­lies — snow, sleet, rain or shine. Pro­fes­sional truck driv­ers sac­ri­fice time with their own fam­i­lies to en­sure our gifts are de­liv­ered, our ta­bles are set, and our roads are safe — a true em­bod­i­ment of the hol­i­day spirit.

If you’re not ac­quainted with a truck driver or in­dus­try pro­fes­sional, I have a small chal­lenge for you this hol­i­day sea­son. Take a sec­ond to ac­knowl­edge a truck driver who’s re­fu­el­ing next to you at a truck stop or de­liv­er­ing a gift to your front door. That small recog­ni­tion can make a pro­found dif­fer­ence in his or her busy day of de­liv­er­ing the items that we en­joy, but some­times take for granted.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY GREG GROESCH

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