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8/13/2012 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Opinion: Appreciating Trucking’s Champions

By Bill Graves

President and CEO

American Trucking Associations

This Opinion piece appears in the Aug. 13 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

This weekend, hundreds of competitors rose from relative obscurity to grab a share of glory in front of enthusiastic, if at times partisan, fans.

No, I’m not speaking of the amazing feats of athleticism we’ve marveled at in London but of the competitors who battled for the title of Grand Champion at the National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships in Minneapolis.

By the time you read this, we will know who won the coveted title, but take a minute to think about just what all of these 425 competitors achieved just to get to the Twin Cities. These are the top 0.01% of the nation’s more than 3 million professional truck drivers.

The NTDC is a tremendous opportunity to appreciate the hard work and effort of not just these elite drivers but of all the professional drivers who deliver the nation’s most essential goods safely, efficiently and sustainably every day.

Beyond the challenging competition among elite performers, the NTDC and the Olympics share another important feature that may not be immediately obvious.

Each year, we are amazed at the precision with which these drivers maneuver their trucks. We see these professionals come ever so close to hitting cones and barriers and ducks, yet somehow manage to avoid the obstacles and successfully complete their challenges.

Similarly, we see a Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, McKayla Maroney or Megan Rapinoe do amazing things at the Olympics every four years.

How are these similar? They’re both amazing events that we take for granted. We don’t necessarily think about Bolt or Phelps or Gabby Douglas when it’s not an Olympics year. And we rarely think about just how remarkable these drivers are — not just during competition but every day on America’s highways.

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