By Sergio Tito Lopez, Chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District
In honor of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (Sept. 12-18), the Port of Brownsville, along with the entire trucking industry in the United States, is thanking the millions of professional truck drivers who work every day to deliver America’s freight safely and securely to provide for our communities.
Nearly every part of our lives is impacted by the work of these highway heroes. The trucking industry is the backbone of our economy, and our professional drivers are the industry’s heart. Visit any grocery store, business, or medical facility throughout the Rio Grande Valley, or any other part of the country, and that becomes immediately obvious. Without them, our workplace, home, dinner table, and everything else in our life would look very different.
America’s professional truck drivers are devoted to doing their jobs safely, because they too are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and friends and neighbors. Their commitment to safety and dependability facilitates greater international trade in our region while also increasing the overall quality of life for Rio Grande Valley residents.
In the midst of a global pandemic bringing many unprecedented challenges, these professional men and women behind the wheel came through for our nation when they were needed most. When the world stopped, they kept moving. Despite the numerous risks to their personal health and safety, the shelves in our stores remained stocked, and our families remained provided for.
Truck drivers also play an important role in transporting the essential commodities needed to build the infrastructure in our communities. As the main transshipment point of commodities such as steel, refined petroleum products, windmill components, aggregates, grains, cement and others, the Port of Brownsville sees more than 1,500 trucks enter daily to pick up cargo and deliver it across the nation and northern Mexico, supporting a wide range of industries throughout North America.
The trucking industry has tremendous impact on the U.S. economy. According to the American Trucking Association, there are more than 3.6 million professional truck drivers nationwide logging more than 400 billion miles annually. They are responsible for delivering more than 10 billion tons of freight each year, which accounts to 70 percent of total U.S. freight tonnage. The trucking industry is an astounding $796.7 billion enterprise, representing more than 80 percent of the nation’s freight bill. These numbers position the trucking industry as a driver of economic progress, but its impact goes beyond trucking to other modes of transportation. Truck drivers help ensure their freight is connected to key sea, air and rail hubs, helping enable intermodal transportation that quickly gets important freight where it needs to go. More than 80 percent of U.S. rural communities rely exclusively on truck drivers to deliver these goods and commodities.
This National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, I encourage the Rio Grande Valley community to acknowledge the essential men and women who step up and ensure that our way of life remains intact. If you see a truck on the highway, or taking a break at a rest stop, take a moment and say thank you to these highway heroes, who truly do move our great country forward.