Next Time You See a Truck Driver, Give Them a Honk!


John Lyboldt, president of the Truckload Carriers Association
Kent MacDonald, president of Northwood University
Timothy Nash, director of the McNair Center at Northwood University
Gary Short is vice-president of GoTo Transport

The competitive spirit and camaraderie of Americans has fueled an epic COVID-19 response filled with compassion, determination, ingenuity, and innovation.

Heroic accomplishments in healthcare, such as new therapeutics, a re-supply of ventilators in record time and a rapid path to a vaccine, have helped to mitigate this deadly disease. Other American patriots have  risen to the moment with numerous acts of charity and kindness to help ease the pain inflicted by this invisible enemy.

Trucking companies, America’s unsung heroes, have operated 24/7 through difficult weather, highway, traffic and delivery conditions to ensure we all have daily access (with little interruption) to essential goods  and services.

Why Trucking is so Important to the American Economy

The following list highlights the many economic contributions truck drivers and trucking companies make to the U.S. economy.

  1. In 2019, the American trucking industry generated just under $800 billion in gross freight revenues, which is more than the 2019 GDP of over 160 nations and slightly larger than Saudi Arabia, the 18th largest economy in the world (Source: World Bank and the IMF – 1 & 2).
  2. There were 7.95 million Americans employed in trucking-related jobs in 2019 (5.2 percent of the U.S. workforce), 3.6 million in professional driver positions. Women made up 6.7 percent of the industry’s drivers and minorities accounted for 41.5 percent of all truck drivers in 2019. American truck drivers’ average age is 55 years old while the average age of the overall workforce is 42 (1 & 3).
  3. Most trucking companies are small, with 91.3 percent operating six or fewer trucks and 97.4 percent operating twenty or less (1).
  4. In 2019, trucks moved 11.84 million tons of freight – about 33 pounds per U.S. citizen (5).
  5. In 2019, trucks accounted for 67.7 percent of total surface freight shipped between the U.S. and Canada and 83.1 percent of U.S. cross border trade with Mexico (1).
  6. Trucks transport about 70 percent of all goods around the U.S. (4 & 5).
  7. Without long-haul trucking, most U.S. grocery stores would run out of food in just under three days; a number of other items within 24 hours (1&5).
  8. Experts predict the U.S. trucking industry faces a shortfall of up to one million drivers by 2030 (4, 5 & 6).
  9. In 2019, truck driver pay averaged $45,330 annually vs. U.S. average income of $43,500 (3 & 4).
  10. On average, Americans drove roughly 13,500 miles in 2019, while professional long-haul truckers averaged roughly 100,000 miles. Also, no trucking regulator has ever been a licensed truck driver (4, 5 & 6).

Highway Angels

Truck drivers see more difficulties in their average work day compared to most Americans. In doing so, U.S. truck drivers also perform selfless acts of heroism even though doing so is not part of their job description. Local, state, and national trucking associations, in microsites like, recognize these drivers for rescuing stranded motorists, being the first to report an automobile accident, pulling drivers from burning automobiles, giving comfort to victims and even assisting with the birth of a newborn.

U.S. truck drivers are truly the unsung heroes of our supply chain.

When the COVID-19 chapter of history is written, there will be volumes of shining moments written about Americans.  We believe there will be a disproportionately high number of stories told about truck drivers and the trucking industry due to their productivity, tireless dedication, character and bravery which forms the mettle from which the industry is forged.