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Truck drivers providing essential services

Sept. 13-20 is designated as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. The trucking industry and its workers are critical to the U.S. economy. Nearly 8 million people are employed in trucking-related jobs, including 3.6 million professional drivers and the trucking industry also contributed nearly $800 billion last year while moving $12 billion tons of freight.

COVID-19 has forced the world to define who an essential worker is during these past several months. Images of healthcare professionals, first responders and store clerks tell the story of essential jobs, but there is a group of workers often overlooked in the story; professional truck drivers. The men and women ensuring food, water, medication, personal protective equipment and other goods are delivered safely, securely and on time. In short, they are critical and without these professionals the American economy would come to a halt.

On behalf of Cummins Inc., the global leader in power technology solutions, and Grammer Industries, a leading fleet and innovator in the trucking industry, we want to thank each truck driver for their commitment to one of the most demanding and important jobs to our U.S. economy. We are joining companies like ours to make every effort to appreciate and recognize truck drivers each day, not just this week. We’re doing this by continuing to make technological and safety advancements, creating better work environments (including work-life balance), and providing drivers with the tools to help them perform their jobs more safely, effectively, efficiently, comfortably, and successfully.

We need more drivers to help businesses like ours succeed and move the economy forward. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), there is a shortage of nearly 50,000 drivers, and that number is expected to reach 175,000 by 2024. Cummins recognizes the importance of this issue, which is why we have been working with the ATA and other groups to address the driver shortage. For the U.S., a truck driver shortage could negatively impact consumers from higher costs associated with product delivery, to longer delays in receiving products to your home, local grocery or pharmacy.

We can all help by highlighting the innovations in today’s trucks and in the truck driving profession. From the transmission to the engine, and from the seats to the sleepers, today’s trucks are state-of-the-art vehicles meeting stringent emissions and fuel economy standards, while still providing an enjoyable experience for drivers. In fact, many heavy-duty trucks now offer automatic transmissions – as well as increasing automation in their driving experience.

Many people think of a truck driver as a person who is on the road for weeks at a time and for long hours each day. However, times have changed, and we are doing everything we can to provide drivers the quality of life we all want.

We are also employing new technologies like our connected solutions to help truck drivers. Cummins Connected Solutions makes real-time updates to engine calibrations and will soon adjust the engine to meet operating conditions whenever and wherever. Today’s society is connected, and we are helping our drivers stay connected, too.

We all count on truck drivers to get our supplies, in fact, over 80% of the nation’s communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. The word needs to be out; this is a rewarding and essential career that pays well, can provide a strong work-life balance, and make our economy and communities stronger.

On behalf of Cummins and Grammer industries, we want to say thanks to all drivers for the work they do each day and their immeasurable contributions to our lives and the economy. We care about them personally and want them to know that their work and contributions are even more appreciated as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

Amy R. Boerger is vice president of sales, engine business at Cummins Inc. Send comments to editorial@therepublic.com

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