08DEC22 was “Dag van de Vrachtwagen Chauffeur” – that’s Dutch for “Day of the Truck Driver” and is an annual event that was first established in 2019, with more than 120 participating companies ranging from trucking companies to freight forwarders, supply chain players, niche media, the post office, tire manufacturers, and the list goes on. After all, practically every commodity moves on a truck at some point in its life cycle.
“Today, we celebrate the annual Day of the Truck Driver in the Netherlands. On this special day, we show our appreciation for the commitment that truck drivers bring to their work, day-in and day-out. Truck drivers arriving at the KLM Cargo facilities today are being welcomed by a number of our colleagues. We're taking Polaroids of the drivers with their trucks and offering them special KLM Cargo-branded stickers that they can fold around the photograph to display. We're also attaching a QR code leading to a video in which we show our gratitude for their efforts and cooperation,” Lotte van Rooij, Director Operations Europe at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo published on LinkedIn.
Without trucks, the world stops turning
“Without you, the entire operation would stop!” Linde van As, Unit Manager Documentation and Live, states in the 40-second Thank You video, available in English with German subtitles. And it is true. Road freight transport plays a significant role in a nation’s economy, providing crucial services to businesses both domestically and cross-border. The IRU states that trucks transport 75% of Europe’s freight by volume, and 85% of its perishable, high value and medical goods, such as vaccines and food. In itself, the trucking industry is a major economic driver. According to The Business Research Company: “The global truck transport market grew from $1,663.34 billion in 2021 to $1,836.67 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4%. […] The truck transport market is expected to grow to $2,499.72 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 8.0%.”
Say Thank You
And yet, most days during the year, truck drivers are simply not seen nor appreciated. In fact, Jo Public probably has never thought about the impact road feeder services have on his daily life, and likely looks down on those doing the job. Worse still, at the height of the pandemic, when truck drivers were essential workers shifting PPE and supply chain goods around and between locked-down countries, they had to deal with closed highway amenities such as food, showers, and toilets. CFG reported: https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2020/08/30/trucking-in-covid-19-times-despised-admired-and-disliked-again/
Tie a yellow ribbon….
“Say THANK YOU Professional Driver by fastening a YELLOW RIBBON on the driver side rearview mirror of the car, taxi, handlebar of your bike and truck/bus mirror,” the Union Internationale des Chauffeurs Routiers (UICR), the largest Professional Driver Association in the transport industry, representing more than +- 1,800,000 Professional Drivers worldwide, advises. It celebrated its International Day of the Professional Drivers from 09MAY-13MAY22, this year. Its website lists all the things to thank drivers for. Over in Russia, Long-haul Truck Driver Day was celebrated on 27AUG22, and is: “in part a celebration of this subculture and in part an expression of gratitude to truck drivers for their hard work and dedication. It celebrates professionals who selflessly deliver cargo over long distances, sacrificing their personal life and risking their health and safety. Some truckers celebrate their professional holiday with family and friends, but most spend the day driving, which is probably the most symbolic way to celebrate Truck Driver Day,” the website explains.
What day is it?
Over in the UK, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) hosts a National Lorry Week every year for eight years. It ran from 24OCT-30OCT22, this year, and – though it refers to a week, it is in fact a month-long roadshow that begins at the start of the month and travels across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to celebrate and acknowledge the role of lorry drivers, and above all attempt to attract new talent. “The logistics industry plays an essential role in our everyday lives, but its efficiency and success – more than 85% of all goods bought in the UK get from A to B on the back of a lorry – is often overlooked. During the Covid-19 crisis, the nation was quick to acknowledge the key role that logistics workers play in the ongoing health of the economy, however as businesses reopen and normality returns, it’s important that the industry and its workers remain ‘key’ in the eyes of the public,” its website details.
Which one, though?
Googling Truck Driver days over in the USA, you find a few different ones, with not much information on how and when they started. First there’s the Truck Driver Day, which is celebrated annually on 12AUG. Then there’s the “Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driver Appreciation Day”, which took place on 15SEP22, as part of the larger National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (11-17SEP22), “a time devoted to showing gratitude for America’s truck drivers. We [the FMCSA] recognize the shared dedication of all professional drivers within the industry, and it’s important we come together as a community to express our appreciation.”
Of the latter, the American Trucking Association says: “Americans in all fifty states have taken extraordinary steps to show their appreciation for the important work that professional truck drivers have done as we navigate our way through the coronavirus pandemic. From children passing out lunches, to ‘I Heart Truck’ signs across America's highways, the public has taken notice of the essential role truck drivers to play in their lives.”
Another new one
And then there’s the new National Truckers Appreciation Day, founded by Bill Stearnes, a used truck salesman from Memphis, in 2020 “to honor those who deliver the food on your table, the clothes on your back, and everything else you use or consume. Truckers frequently go unnoticed and unappreciated, despite making significant sacrifices to keep this country moving. Sometimes even putting their lives in danger. Many of them are separated from their families for days, weeks, or even months, which is why there is no better day to express the nation’s gratitude than October 4.”
The better way
A THANK YOU is definitely a nice and welcome touch, however what would most be appreciated are respect, decent pay, efficient processes, and above all, safe, clean, functional, available, and open toilets, showers, and cafes. Basic human needs in exchange for carrying out a long and lonely job in order to keep the economy running.
Bedankt, alle vrachtwagenchauffeurs!
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