Arik Spencer: Trucking makes North Dakota holidays possible
BISMARCK--Dining room tables set for a family feast. Storefront displays brimming with gifts to exchange with loved ones. Communities and friends joining together for holiday traditions. Bright lights on downtown trees and wreaths on doors.
BISMARCK-Dining room tables set for a family feast. Storefront displays brimming with gifts to exchange with loved ones. Communities and friends joining together for holiday traditions. Bright lights on downtown trees and wreaths on doors.
These are just some of the images I think about when the holiday season is upon us. And no matter who you are, which holidays you celebrate, or where you're from, all of these images share something in common: they're all made possible by trucking.
The fact is, trucking touches every aspect of the holidays - and it goes beyond stocking grocery store shelves or delivering that perfect gift.
In North Dakota, 46.4 percent of communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. In addition to providing all those goods and cargo, trucking keeps your family members moving on the roads for that special time together by ensuring our gas stations are amply stocked with fuel.
The trucking industry is proud to deliver the holidays, and we recognize the enormous responsibility that comes with it. When more than 100 million drivers are on the road this season - as AAA forecast for year-end holidays last year - they'll be driving alongside nearly 3.5 million professional truck drivers, with 16,450 drivers in North Dakota alone.
That's why professional truck drivers are trained and dedicated to ensuring the safety of all motorists on the road, and why the industry as a whole invests $9.5 billion each year in safety. The investment spans all facets of trucking safety, including driver training, compliance with safety rules, on-board safety technology and awards and bonus pay for improved safety performances.
There's no doubt that the investment is paying off. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that trucks have a crash rate that is 28 percent lower than that of other vehicles. The fatal crash rate has fallen 74 percent since 1980, and that figure has dropped 17 percent in the last decade alone.
Further, trucks are principally at fault in only 25 percent of fatal car-truck crashes. This improvement comes even as the trucking industry is expanding, by operating an additional 2.7 million trucks and driving billions of additional miles each year.
In addition to keeping our roads safe - during the holidays and throughout the year - trucking works to better our communities. Many families and organizations answer a call to service during the holiday season, and the trucking industry is no exception.
From safety to service, the trucking industry is dedicated to ensuring the holidays happen for all of us. It's the only industry that can say it directly ships to every community in America, helping to make this time of the year brighter for all families - snow, sleet, rain or shine.
Professional truck drivers sacrifice time with their own families to ensure our gifts are delivered, our tables are set, and our roads are safe - a true embodiment of the holiday spirit.
Spencer is executive vice president of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association.