Editorial: Much-Needed Driver Appreciation

Showing appreciation for truck drivers is always a good idea but never more so than now, with east Texas still drying out after Hurricane Harvey and Florida bracing for the wrath of Irma.

For a number of years, people in trucking enjoyed reminding our fellow citizens, “Good Stuff. Trucks Bring It.” That often called to mind images of desirable goods: clothes, electronics, sporting goods, ice cream.

Now, though, truck drivers are using their vehicles to haul the necessities of life. Suffering communities need lots of bottled water because clean drinking water becomes scarce. Trucks are bringing those bottles, plus warm, dry clothing, food and medical supplies, electric generators and bedding for shelters — or they are doing so as best they can.

Consider the case of Winston Mullings. After successfully hauling important supplies to Pineville, La., from Atlanta, he headed off to Beeville, Texas, with another Federal Emergency Management Agency load, but got caught on a Texas highway that turned into a river — at least 3 feet of water, he estimated.

Mullings, a driver for Applauze Transfer of Stone Mountain, Ga., wound up spending three days in a Red Cross shelter after he was rescued from his stranded rig by a boat.

Truck driving is a challenge on dry, sunny days, trying to meet precise delivery schedules while safely operating an 80,000-pound vehicle through heavy traffic over roads that, oftentimes, are in need of repair. Adding historic flooding to the mix makes this truly hazardous duty.

Therefore, National Truck Driver Appreciation Week couldn’t come at better time than this year’s stretch of Sept. 10-16.

Truck stops and dealerships are joining with the nation’s fleets to offer a weeklong salute and thank you to drivers. Pilot Flying J, for example, will award prizes to more than 65,000 drivers.

NTDAW was started in 1988 by American Trucking Associations and others to give credit where credit is due.

Last month in Orlando, Fla., the country got to see at the National Truck Driving Championships how skilled drivers are and how seriously they take their jobs. It also was a great opportunity to meet a lot of really nice people.

Based on recent events, Americans are learning that the people who transport the components of their $18 trillion economy also are thoroughly decent, caring human beings.