Utah-based C.R. England takes great pride in the quality of those they hire to drive their trucks. So it’s somewhat disconcerting for them to admit that the general public views their drivers, and truck drivers in general, as not being quality people. The poor public perception is one that is not deserved. It is also something that Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) and Pilot Flying J are working to try to overcome.
The TMAF and Pilot Flying J partnership is all about improving the reputation of the trucking industry by educating the public about how important trucking is to the economy. As part of their effort, they have come up with a friendly looking mascot that they are still looking to name. The mascot and its associated campaign are good first step, but the trucking industry needs more than that.
For the record, the trucking industry employs very good people who work extremely hard to make sure America’s store shelves remain stocked with affordable consumer goods. Including drivers, there are nearly 11 million people employed by the trucking industry. That amounts to one in every 16 people. It also amounts to more than $726 billion in annual revenues.
An Undeserved Reputation
The importance of the trucking industry to the overall economy is quite obvious to anyone who steps back and looks at the numbers honestly. To say that our economy would collapse if the trucking industry went under is more than an understatement. Furthermore, the bad reputation of the trucking industry developed over the last 10 to 15 years is very much undeserved.
This bad reputation is the culmination of several factors working together. First, America has spent the better part of three decades exulting college degrees and white-collar jobs as the epitome of success. In order to do that, we have had to talk down career choices that don’t require a degree and/or involve manual labor.
The result is one of trucking now being seen as a last-ditch career choice for individuals who cannot do anything else. But it is simply not true. Moreover, America needs trucking in the same way it needs retail, sanitation, farming, and all those other careers that we try so hard to prevent our kids from entering.
Second, trucking has become a political football over the last 30 years. In order to pass their bills and create great interview and photo ops, politicians have trashed the trucking industry by accusing it of everything from ruining the roads to endangering other drivers. They have piled regulation upon regulation to make trucking one of the most regulated industries in the country.
A New Mindset Needed
The industry says that restoring a positive reputation of trucking is going to require more than a mascot and a PR campaign. It is going to require a whole new mindset that values trucking for the tremendous contributions it makes to our economy. It starts with bringing an end to constantly pushing college degrees and professional jobs as the only way to succeed in America. Federal and state governments should follow suit by backing off the over burdensome regulations that continue to prevent trucking from realizing its full potential.
Should you come across the new trucking mascot over the next 12 months, remember that behind that mascot are millions of human beings that make their living in trucking. They deserve every bit as much respect as the IT expert, surgeon, and police officer. Our economy could not continue to grow if it were not for truck drivers and the rest of the dedicated workers that make the industry go.