September 23, 2013 3:45 AM, EDT

Motor Carriers, Shippers Honor Drivers During Nationwide Appreciation Week

By Kevin Eaton, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Sept. 23 print edition of Transport Topics.

Carriers, shippers, associations and other trucking-related organizations last week honored the millions of drivers who move goods as part of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

The event, beginning Sept. 16, marked the 25th year that drivers were heralded for their work.

“For 52 weeks a year, America’s professional truck drivers make sure that our most essential items — food, fuel, medicine, clothing — are delivered,” American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said.

“Lately, they are doing so more safely and efficiently than ever before, despite increasingly congested highways and ever more demanding logistics schedules. Their commitment is second to none, and that’s why we’re asking that Americans take a few minutes to appreciate the effort these professionals put in every day,” Graves said in a statement.

More than 3.1 million professional truck drivers are hauling freight, according to ATA, which established the tribute.

Here’s how some companies recognized their drivers:

• Keith Tuttle, president of Northwood, Ohio-based Motor Carrier Service, washed windows and gave away gift certificates. He also spoke to a local radio station about Appreciation Week.

• Werner Enterprises said it was serving meals at its 12 terminals and hosting a driver recognition ceremony to honor its most recent drivers to achieve 2 million safe-driving miles in its hometown of Omaha, Neb. Werner ranks No. 13 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

• TMC Transportation, with headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, treated drivers to lunch and health and wellness gifts, such as chair massages, healthy snack bags and haircuts at its four terminals around the country. Each driver also received a resistance band and workout card to get exercise while on the road.

• Jet Express, based in Dayton, Ohio, celebrated Truck Driver Appreciation Week and its 30th  anniversary with a cookout and a raffle for a new grill.

• RWI Transportation, a Wilder, Ky.-based logistics company, hosted drivers for lunch and gave away appreciation packages that included travel bags, laundry bags, polo shirts and travel cups.

• Gordon Trucking Inc. gave away truck washes from Gordon employees as well as grab bags with gloves, pens, hats and gift cards. The Pacific, Wash.-based company ranks No. 61 on the for-hire TT 100.

• The Minnesota Trucking Association honored drivers during a ceremony at the Clearwater Travel Plaza and Petro. Drivers were presented with healthy food samples, blood-glucose and blood-pressure screenings, stretching and strengthening exercises and a bean-bag toss competition.

• Rand McNally, based in Skokie, Ill., held a weeklong sweepstakes on its website and Facebook page for various prizes, including a fleet management and compliance system.

• Continental Tire the Americas, based in Fort Mill, S.C., teamed with the website to give away a $25 gift certificate a day for Continental Tire merchandise.

• The California Highway Patrol recognized drivers and encouraged the public to share the road safely with trucks. “I salute these men and women who oftentimes make personal sacrifices for their profession,” Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a statement.

• Pilot Flying J, based in Knoxville, Tenn., celebrated with double points for its rewards program.

• The governors of Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Virginia issued proclamations declaring Sept. 15-21 to be Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

• Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, with headquarters in Elyria, Ohio, said it supports drivers. “We extend our sincere thanks and respect for their commitment to this challenging and vital job that keeps America moving forward,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix’s director of government and industry affairs.