Truck Driver Day
annually on August 12th
Professional truck drivers are honored and celebrated today with Truck Driver Day. In the United States, a driver is considered to be a truck driver when their vehicle has a gross vehicle weight—the weight of the vehicle loaded—of at least 26,000 pounds. They must obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) to drive a vehicle of this weight. Employers often require their drivers to take a safety training program, and some also require a high school degree or GED.
Truck drivers carry all kinds of freight—livestock, food, canned goods, liquids, packages, and vehicles—all across the United States and the world. They often have to load and unload their freight and must inspect their trucks before taking to the road. Truck drivers often ship products to stores, and some may have to undertake sales duties. Many truck drivers work long hours. Some may have daily local routes that keep them close to home, while others may have routes and schedules that often change, and many have to be away from home for an extended amount of time.
Some trucks were on the road in the United States prior to World War I. Trucks continued to be used and developed during the war, and by 1920 there were more than a million trucks on the roads of America. Trucking continued to expand over the following decade, on account of advancements such as the introduction of the diesel engine, improved rural roads, the introduction of power brakes and steering, and the standardization of truck and trailer sizes. In the 1930s, a number of trucking regulations were implemented, and the American Trucking Association was created. Trucking activity increased in the 1950s and '60s, in large part because of the creation of the Interstate Highway System. Regulations on the weight of trucks continued to be updated.
The heyday of the truck driver came in the 1960s and '70s. At the time, a wide swath of the public viewed truck drivers as modern-day cowboys or outlaws. The rise of "trucker culture" was signaled with the proliferation of trucker songs and films, the wearing of plaid shirts and trucker hats by the public, and the wide use of CB radios and CB slang. The romanticization of trucker culture subsided by the dawn of the 1980s.
Many truckers went on strike during the energy crises of 1973 and 1979, after the cost of fuel rose. The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 partially deregulated the industry. As a result, many new trucking companies were started. Trucker union membership also drastically declined, leading to lower pay. But the deregulation did reduce consumer costs, and it increased production and competition in the trucking industry. By the twenty-first century, trucking dominated the freight industry. In 2006, there were 26 million trucks on America's roads, which hauled about 70 percent of the country's freight. Truckers continue to play a prominent role in keeping the wheels of the economy turning, and for the hard work they put in to make this happen, they are honored and celebrated today!
How to Observe Truck Driver Day
Some ideas of ways the day could be spent include:
- If you are a truck driver, get out there and drive! Or, take the day off. It should be up to you!
- Wave to truckers or make a gesture like you are pulling a truck horn in an attempt to get them to honk their horns.
- Thank a truck driver. Tell them thanks in person or make a social media post of thanks. Include the hashtag #TruckDriverDay.
- Become a truck driver.
- Listen to some truck driving songs such as "Convoy" and "Truck Drivin' Man."
- Watch some truck driving films such as Smokey and the Bandit, Convoy, and Big Rig.
- Talk on a CB radio.
- Eat at a truck stop.
- Attend or take part in the National Truck Driving Championships, which are held around the time as Truck Driver Day.
- Read a book about trucking or truckers such as Trucking Country: The road to America's Wal-Mart Economy or The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road.
- Explore the websites of organizations and companies related to the industry such as American Trucker, Truckers News, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Trucking Associations, and the Women in Trucking Association.