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September 12, 2016 3:15 AM, EDT

America’s 3.5 Million Truck Drivers to Be Recognized With Salutes, Gifts

This story appears in the Sept. 12 print edition of Transport Topics.

Free barbecue, coffee, doughnuts and travel mugs are among the many ways that America’s 3.5 million truck drivers will be thanked for their hard work during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 11-17

“Those who work in the trucking industry or personally know a truck driver understand the important work that these men and women do on the road each day,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said. “Truck drivers are safe, dedicated individuals who help provide our daily goods.”

DAY-BY-DAY COVERAGE: Share your salute on Twitter with #NTDAW

According to ATA, the trucking industry provides one out of every 16 American jobs, a total of 7.3 million, and moves more than 70% of the nation’s total freight tonnage. Also, more than 80% of U.S. communities rely exclusively on trucking to deliver their goods.

ATA First Vice Chairman Kevin Burch and America’s Road Team captains will appear on several morning shows this week to promote the industry as well as truck driving careers.

“Truck drivers are incredibly vital to our economy, but they’re also valuable members of their communities,” Burch said.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin proclaimed “Truck Driver Appreciation Week” in her state, noting that drivers, “travel more than 250 billion miles and deliver more than 100 billion tons of freight each year. … Our economic system rides on the wheels of trucks and on the shoulders of the people who safely drive those trucks.”

Choptank Transport representatives will give gift bags to drivers at the TravelAmerica Center/Petro Truck Stop in Elkton, Maryland, on Sept. 16.

“Being responsible for 40 tons on the road is not an easy job,” said Paul Wood, director of career services for Choptank Transport, which is partnering with the Maryland Motor Truck Association for the event. “It often means days away from home navigating through all kinds of weather and difficult traffic conditions, while being under pressure to deliver cargo on time. . . . It’s nice to celebrate this once a year, but we should be thankful for their hard work and dedication all year long.”

Love’s Travel Stops is giving away more than 20 million My Love Rewards points in September. One driver will win 500,000 My Love Rewards points, a $5,000 value.

Denny’s is offering special discounts and prizes such as gift cards or free Grand Slam breakfasts for drivers at more than 140 of its travel centers this month.

In addition, Boss Truck Shops are offering free barbecue to drivers this week at different times and days at each of its locations, and Universal Lumpers is celebrating drivers with free coffee, doughnuts and travel mugs at its distribution centers.