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September 9, 2018 11:15 AM, EDT

Editorial: Take a Minute, Thank a Driver

It’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, the time of year when motor carriers and others connected to trucking make a special effort to recognize the professionals who keep the freight moving. Throughout the week, special events will take place to honor them, and many of those events will feature food. Lots of it. So let’s hope the industry’s drivers have a hearty appetite!

On our website throughout this week and in special coverage slated for next week’s print edition, Transport Topics will spotlight some of the events being held to recognize drivers. Of course, companies can, should and do show appreciation for their drivers throughout the year, but a designated week gives fleets a focal point around which to plan and make a splash.

Let’s hope drivers come away from National Truck Driver Appreciation Week feeling duly appreciated and energized about their jobs. Because they deserve it.

Also, because a recent economic forecast supports what we already know — the need for more drivers is poised to persist.

According to American Trucking Associations’ latest Freight Forecast, truck volumes will grow 2.3% annually for the next five years and 2.2% annually for the five following years.

This year, ATA expects total tonnage transported will reach nearly 16 billion tons and expects that total to reach 21.7 billion tons in 2029 — a 35.6% increase.

ATA also forecasts trucking will own 70.2% of that freight, a percentage it predicts will fall to 65.9% by 2029 as expected shifts to pipelines for commodities movements will affect the freight market and motor carriers. But that percentage will still leave trucking as the most popular mover of freight — and in a position where it will still need safe, conscientious drivers.

So, this week and throughout the year, show truck drivers some appreciation. Buy them lunch. Offer some kudos. They have earned it.

Plus, the industry needs to keep them happy.