Friend Not Foe: The Value of Our Trucking Supply Chain Drivers

Trucker looking down from their truck cab

As someone who spends as much time on the road as myself, something I never put much consideration into was just how vital of a role truck drivers play in the supply chain as well as the list of problems that they encounter on a daily basis. Instead of just seeing semis as a nuisance every time I am in a hurry to get somewhere, I now see them as the beating heart of our economy. Not only does the trucking industry employ over 3.6 million drivers, technicians, and dispatchers but also millions of other jobs such as manufacturing, healthcare, fuel, and many other places such as your local grocery store. In fact, Trucks transport over 70% of all goods in the United States. 

Something that many people do not take into consideration is that without all the truck drivers in our country, almost everything that we know would come to a screeching halt. Imagine if the supply chain shortage issue during COVID-19 was extended for a longer period of time. We would experience not only major increases in prices all around the country but also things such as food and water shortages within weeks. Healthcare facilities would run out of essential supplies. And much, much more. The trucking industry influences so many things from the food you put on your table to the stability of our national security. 

 Something else to keep in mind is all the challenges and obstacles that these drivers face day to day. One of the biggest is other motorists on the road who become distracted. Many tend to minimize the severity of distracted driving with cell phones being right at the top of that list. Even with more and more laws being put into place, such as Michigan's Zero tolerance for using phones while driving, it has become one of the biggest causes of accidents across the country. But that is just one of many things that can cause a driver to become distracted. There are four primary types of distractions for motorists including visual distractions, manual distractions, auditory distractions, and last but not least, cognitive distractions. One is just as important as the other. 

  Last but not least are blind spots and the amount of time it takes for truck drivers to come to a complete stop. Trucks have extremely large blind spots on both sides of the tractor, and the front part of the trailer. These blind spots then angle out from the truck. There are blind spots on all four sides of a semi-truck. Due to the height of a semi-truck, its front blind spot can extend further than 20 feet. The largest blind spot on a semi-truck is on its right side. The right-side blind spot expands backward at an angle and can extend as many as three lanes to the right. On average, a semi-truck traveling at 65 mph in good conditions takes approximately 525 feet to come to a complete stop. Which is about 40% more time than the average passenger vehicle takes to stop. 

 But the impact of trucking goes far beyond just moving goods. It is about creating and maintaining a reliable and efficient system that businesses and consumers such as yourself can depend on. Without these guys behind the wheel, our economy would most likely crumble. So perhaps the next time you pass one of them, give them a friendly wave or nod to let them know just how much we appreciate all the hard work that they do for us, our family, and our country.