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September 11, 2018 2:30 PM, EDT

USDOT Praises Drivers for Commitment as Florence Approaches

Hurricane Florence on 9/11/18 This GOES East satellite image of Hurricane Florence was taken at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 11. (NOAA via AP)

As Hurricane Florence loomed off the East Coast during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao expressed gratitude to the truck drivers who would be braving adverse road and weather conditions to deliver their loads.

“When a disaster causes store shelves to empty, gas pumps to shut and electrical grids to shut down, America’s truck drivers bring in the supplies that save lives, provide comfort and allow people to rebuild,” Chao wrote in a Sept. 10 Department of Transportation blog. “So we should all be even more appreciative than usual this week for their hard work and professionalism. And let’s wish these men and women safe travel and help them out by operating our own vehicles in a safer manner in proximity to large trucks.”

Chao went on to state that USDOT was looking to the future of the trucking workforce, noting the July 5 announcement of a pilot program to permit 18- to 20-year-olds who possess the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver license to operate large trucks in interstate commerce. That proposal could help veterans land jobs and at the same time address the nationwide driver shortage.

Eighty percent of U.S. communities rely solely on trucks for the delivery of goods, Chao wrote. “Life literally would not be the same — for anyone — without America’s truck drivers.”