Many restaurants around Los Angeles and Southern California serve dinner on Christmas Day but no one caters to the needs of truckers on the road like the network of truck stops across the United States.
My sister team drives a custom delivery truck with Federal Express and I met her with her driving partner at the Truck Stops of America in Barstow in early December. The truck stop was advertising its Christmas Day dinner special.
The signs and our banter with the waitress on a cold Sunday night in Barstow off Interstate 15 at about 9:30 helped me realize the value of truck stops--a gathering place for long-haul truckers where they get to shower, use a fitness room, and enjoy the company of servers until they climb back in the cab and head down another stretch of highway.
Truckers play a critical role in the nation’s economy by bridging manufacturers with customers and customers with each other. David Heller, director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Association said in a CNN report in Nov. 2012 that, “there isn’t one thing you own that hasn’t already been on a truck.”
Despite the importance of truck drivers, a shortage of qualified drivers may be looming. An article in Businessweek, Nov. 14, 2013 stated that, “Nationwide there are about 25,000 unfilled truck driving jobs, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). That’s a manageable shortfall for now, given a still-struggling economy and lower-than-expected demand. Analysts expect freight volumes, which were flat in 2013, to rise only slightly in 2014—but that could be enough to create a need for more drivers.”
The U.S. government projects that 330,000 new truckers will be needed by 2020 yet many potential drivers are unwilling to make the commitment due to the cost of training and the long hours away from family and home.
This Christmas, as you consider the people who work on the holiday be sure to remember the truck driver and be thankful for those who make it their job to sit behind a wheel and haul the goods we give as presents.