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We say it all the time: “Drivers move America forward.” We say it so often, in fact, that I think many of us in the supply chain industry forget exactly what it means. There are about 3.5 million drivers in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau. Collectively, they’re responsible for about 63% of the more than $1 trillion worth of freight moved across North America each year. Forget just the US; what would this entire continent look like if all of these critical workers decided they no longer wanted to sit behind the wheel?
I hope this serves to illustrate the fact that drivers don’t just move America forward. They hold America together. Every single one of them deserves a huge thank you for risking his/her life to make sure we have the food and supplies we rely on – whether we’re on the East Coast, West Coast or anywhere in between.
A few months ago, I had the privilege of helping to deliver a couple hundred pizzas to drivers at truck stops around the country, courtesy of FourKites. I had a blast, and it really was the least we could do to show some gratitude to some of the nation’s most hardworking individuals. We in the white-collar world complain about our commutes (or at least we used to), and bemoan the health impacts of sitting at a desk all day. But what about the men and women for whom the commute is the job? Who don’t have the simple luxury of getting up for a stretch whenever they want, and who put their lives on the line to keep goods flowing?
In March, when the emergency order relaxed hours of service requirements for carriers moving essential food and medical supplies around the country, thousands of drivers stepped up to the plate, taking on extra hours at the wheel and facing unprecedented wait times at pickup and delivery facilities to make sure those items were delivered successfully.
Drivers are always on our minds here at FourKites – and not just during Driver Appreciation Week. They’re an integral member of our platform and our community, and we frequently seek out their opinions on new features, usability and more. Not too long ago, a group of FourKiters, led by both our CEO and our president, took a road trip out to the Iowa 80, the largest truckstop in North America, to visit with truckers and to get their candid opinions on using FourKites. Just as we include suggestions from our shipper customers in our product roadmap, we also make sure that our drivers’ and carriers’ voices are taken into consideration when building our products.
Case in point: Two of the biggest releases we rolled out during the pandemic were our electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL) and electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD) concepts, which help drivers avoid coming into contact with germy stacks of paper at every pickup and delivery site. Instead, these frontline workers are able to handle all of their paperwork electronically, directly within our app, and in the process save time, paper and, ideally, lives.
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During this National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, I’d like to challenge everyone who reads this to not just leave it at that. As long as this pandemic continues, and as long as our shelves stay full, we should be showing our appreciation to the people out there risking their lives to make sure they stay that way.
If you’re looking for a more material way to show your support and appreciation, you might consider making a donation to an organization like Trucker’s Final Mile, which helps truckers and their families get through major crises such as death or serious injury; Trucking Moves America, which builds awareness around the importance of trucking to America’s economic well-being; Truckers Against Trafficking, which empowers truckers to be the “eyes and ears on the road” and assist law enforcement’s efforts to curb human trafficking (and with whom we have partnered to give more tools to drivers); or St. Christopher Trucker Relief and Development Fund, which assists truckers with free vaccines, smoking cessation programs and more.
In these unprecedented times, it’s never been more important to #ThankATrucker.