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Media's Reckless Portrayal of Trucking American Public Taken for a Ride

American Public Taken for a Ride

Alexandria, Virginia:

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) responds to recent inaccurate press articles. The recent appearance of articles claiming the federal government has eased trucking regulations have portrayed the trucking industry as one comprised of large unsafe trucks traveling with reckless abandon on our nation's highways. In fact, the federal government has done the opposite. What these articles fail to point out is that trucks travel on our nation's highways on a daily basis and without incident. Traveling in the safest, most professional manner, the trucking industry travels approximately 115 billion miles each year. This is the equivalent of making 115,000 cross country trips per day.

Public perception driven by misrepresented statistics has made trucking an embattled industry - - an industry in which opinions expressed in such limelight display trucks in a glare of negative publicity. For every negative story that is printed about the trucking industry, there are many positive attributes often left unsaid.

Condemning an industry without expressing the whole story is misleading and irresponsible. For instance, the New York Times recently misrepresented practices in the trucking industry relative to time behind-the-wheel, but failed to inform the reader that these driving practices are well within the mandated federal regulations.

What many of these articles neglect to do is tell the full story about trucking by looking closely at the relevant statistics. Statistics that explain that the large truck fatal crash rate dropped 22% from 1993 to 2003 are not mentioned. According to a study by the AAA Foundation, in fatal crashes involving a truck and another motor vehicle, police assigned one or more unsafe driving factors to the passenger vehicle driver and no factors to the truck drivers in 73% of all the cases, again statistics that are not mentioned.

Further, with driver fatigue reported as being an ongoing concern among our nation's truck drivers, reports fail to acknowledge that fatal accidents in which drowsiness or sleepiness is cited as a factor, the passenger vehicle driver is cited 94% of the time. Barry Pottle, TCA Chairman and President of Pottle's Transportation, stated that the industry has spent millions of dollars on studies regarding fatigue and technology to further safety enhancements in the rig itself and on driver training programs. He went on to say that "the industry truly believes that better education, cooperation and courtesy are critical to making our highways safer for everyone. The trucking industry is committed to continually improving highway safety in communities across America. And we stand ready to do even more."

What is most disappointing is that these reports completely ignore the role this industry plays in the economy and the professionalism of its drivers. The trucking industry is the catalyst of the freight distribution system, hauling nearly 70% of all domestic freight transportation tonnage in the United States and accounting for more than 80% of the nation's freight bill. Over 80% of the communities in the U.S. receive their goods exclusively from trucks. The trucking industry employs more than 8.6 million people or one in 15 civilian workers. The realization that trucking plays an important role in public safety would be an understatement. As the dominant mode of freight transportation, trucking is projected to haul 13 billion tons of freight by 2016, compared with 10 billion tons in 2005.

As TCA's President Chris Burruss stated, "Put simply, trucking delivers virtually every product and convenience purchased in the retail marketplace. Food, construction materials, medical supplies, fuel and educational materials are but a small fraction of the goods delivered by truck." Mr. Burruss went on to say that "The public must recognize that every truck is driven by a mother, father, brother or sister who has one goal in mind: to deliver their needed cargo, do so safely, and make it home to their loved ones. They carry the education, health and dreams of our families on their trailers each and every day, 365 days a year. They have a sense of commitment and a work ethic that is rarely seen in other industries today. Many of these drivers do so while logging in excess of a million miles without an accident. This would represent tens of thousands of trips back and forth to work for those of us who commute by car."

Through the TCA Highway Angel program, there are many drivers who have saved the lives of thousands of individuals while on the highway, but their recognition remains inside the industry, rarely picked up in the mainstream press. The ATA Highway Watch program, trains millions of drivers to serve as the eyes for our law enforcement community, reporting suspicious highway activity as it occurs all across our nation. And still, the only recognition the drivers seem to receive are articles that misrepresent the facts and downplay the true reason they travel our nations highways; to keep our economy moving and keep us safe.

On behalf of the millions of truck drivers whose office is their truck and the highways their workplace, it is the industry's sincere hope that these drivers will be recognized for the true nature of what they do each day and not be penalized by misleading manipulations of the truth.