Transportation trade group the American Trucking Associations (ATA) kicked off its annual "National Truck Driver Appreciation Week" event on Sunday, turning a spotlight on the nation's 3.5 million professional truck drivers.
The event comes at a time when drivers are facing challenging conditions ranging from a slumping global economy to a collapse in truckload freight rates amid ballooning capacity, and advances in self-driving vehicle technology.
Just today, vehicle manufacturer Daimler said it had begun testing automated trucks on public roads in Virginia through a collaboration between Torc Robotics and the recently established Daimler Trucks Autonomous Technology Group.
To commemorate truckers' work, the ATA said that state trucking associations, industry suppliers, and motor carriers of all sizes are set to host appreciation events such as safety award presentations, family gatherings, cookouts, and giveaways.
The plans are intended to honor the men and women who safely deliver 71.4% of the country's total freight tonnage, the ATA said. More than 80% of U.S. communities rely exclusively on truck drivers to deliver their goods and commodities - allowing the nation's rural communities access to modern comforts.
"Truck drivers play a critical role in the nation's economy and deserve the recognition that this week brings," ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a release. "Beyond delivering office supplies, building materials and school books, truck drivers deliver the tailgate essentials and festive fall favorites that make this time of year so enjoyable."
Organizations holding events include the logistics company ArcBest and its less-than-truckload carrier arm ABF Freight, freight transportation and supply chain management provider Averitt Express, video and driver data program manager SmartDrive Systems Inc., and shippers like beverage distributor Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits LLC.
It's not too late to shop the #NTDAW2019 store. As festivities get under way this week, there are still items available for order -- a great way to #ThankATrucker and show appreciation for our nation's professional truck drivers. https://t.co/vRe5XWco9I— American Trucking (@TRUCKINGdotORG) September 9, 2019