Truck Drivers: The Unsung Heroes of Our Supply Chain

The trucking industry is a major part of the American economy, and it’s easy to see why when you consider the sheer scale of the industry. There are approximately 15 million commercial trucks in the United States. If we were to line them up end to end, their combined length would reach an astounding distance equivalent to the moon the diameter of the moon?  The circumference?  The distance to?  Clarify please. The striking portrayal vividly depicts the far-reaching impact and substantial influence of the trucking industry on the vast expanse of the American transportation network. Behind the wheels of these enormous vehicles are the dedicated and skilled truck drivers who form the backbone of the industry. More than 3 million truck drivers contribute their expertise and hard work to keep the flow of goods and materials moving efficiently across the nation.

The Magnitude of Commercial Trucks

In addition to their sheer number of 15 million and growing, commercial trucks also carry a significant amount of freight. In 2021, the trucking industry moved 10.93 billion tons of freight. This represents 72.5% of all freight tonnage in the United States. This means that trucks are responsible for transporting the vast majority of goods that move around the country. Not to mention the outstanding $700 billion in revenue generated from the trucking industry.

The trucking industry is also a major source of jobs. In 2021, there were over 3.5 million employed truck drivers in the United States. The industry supports millions more jobs in related fields such as manufacturing, logistics, and maintenance. Unfortunately, with exponential e-commerce growth comes some concern. The trucking industry is facing a shortage of drivers. An estimated additional 1.1 million drivers by 2026 will be needed. More drivers means more freight, more fuel, and more trucks.

Seamless Distribution

At the beginning of the supply chain, truckers are responsible for transporting raw materials from diverse sources to factories and manufacturing plants. This ensures that the production process remains on schedule. Without reliable transportation services, factories would struggle to receive the necessary resources. This would cause delays and disruptions in the manufacturing of goods.

Once production is complete, it is the truck drivers who take charge of delivering the finished products from manufacturing facilities to distribution centers. This vital step allows retailers to replenish their inventory promptly and subsequently meet the demands of consumers effectively.

Truckers’ extensive reach and flexibility enable what we know as “just-in-time” deliveries. This means that products are delivered precisely when neededthereby reducing the need for businesses to stockpile excessive amounts of inventory. By facilitating efficient and timely deliveries, truckers help companies optimize their supply chain operations. Reduced costs associated with excess storage and inventory management are a premier benefit.

Annual Mileage: A Testament to Endurance

To comprehend the tremendous effort exerted by truck drivers, consider their annual mileage. On average, a truck driver covers a distance of 105,000 miles per year. Some drivers clock upwards of 125,000 miles, an exhaustive testament to their dedication to our global supply chain. This figure is significantly higher than the average distance driven (13,500 annual miles) by an individual in a passenger car. The long hours spent behind the wheel, often traversing vast distances, reflect the devotion and endurance of truck drivers who play a crucial role in supporting the country’s economy.

These drivers navigate long hours on the road, ensuring that essential goods reach their destinations promptly and safely. The average truck driver spends over 200 nights away from home, sacrificing family time to keep us running. Often looked down upon, truckers make a conscious effort to allow for safe passing and driving. Meanwhile, they safely maneuver mammoth size vehicles in all types of weather.

Economic Impact

The scale of the trucking industry highlights its significant economic impact. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), trucks move approximately 71% of the freight tonnage in the U.S. This reliance on trucking underscores its crucial role in the supply chain. Additionally, they are supporting various sectors such as manufacturing, retail, and construction. The industry contributes billions of dollars to the economy each year, making it an indispensable force driving economic growth and development.

As we move forward, it is crucial to recognize and support the trucking industry, ensuring its continued success and contribution to our nation’s growth and prosperity. Without truck drivers, our shelves would be empty, our factories would be idle, and our businesses would be unable to operate.  From medicine to fuel, the clothes we wear on our backs and the cars we drive, let us remember who really keeps us driving and moving forward. Truck drivers are an essential part of our society, and we should all be grateful for their hard work and dedication. They are the unsung heroes of our supply chain, and we would be lost without them.