The power of truly appreciating truck drivers

By on September 2, 2012
Kolman2

I look forward to each National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Since the inaugural event in 1998, it’s a time when America and the trucking industry recognizes professional truck drivers for the difficult job they do so well.

Motor carriers, shippers, trucking industry manufacturers and suppliers, industry associations and local communities host special events and promotions in honor of professional truck drivers. There are free lunches and giveaways like pens, rulers and hats.

At some companies, dispatchers and fleet managers cook burgers and hot dogs for drivers. Some travel centers provide free windshield cleaning services and coffee. Governors and local leaders issue proclamations in honor of the professional truck driver.

It would be nice to see the trucking industry express its appreciation to truckers as a matter of routine, throughout the year. Doing so could help reduce driver turnover. Gallup reports that almost 70 percent of people in the U.S. say they receive no praise or recognition in the workplace. Everyone wants a “pat on the back” once in a while because we need to know that we’re important. When it comes to our jobs, we respond to honest and sincere appreciation expressed through recognition of our work because it confirms that our work is valued.

When our efforts are valued, our satisfaction and productivity rises and we are motivated to maintain or improve our good work.

A lack of appreciation has the complete opposite effect, causing reduced performance and productivity. Beyond that, it promotes a poor attitude.

My guess is that drivers feel more unappreciated than workers in many other types of jobs. So, having an annual National Truck Driver Appreciation Week to remind others to recognize truckers’ efforts is a good thing.

Another good thing would be for truck drivers themselves to have a regular event to remind them to appreciate each other. That means lending a hand to your fellow drivers and acknowledging help when they give it.

You hold the door for a driver with his hands full of stuff coming out of a truckstop. Do you get a thank you? You help a driver back blind-side into a parking space at a truckstop. Do you get a wave or a tap of the horn? You see a driver struggling to slide his trailer’s tandems at a weigh station. Do you stop to lend him a helping hand? You pass a trucker on the side of the road reading a road atlas. Do you grab the CB mic and ask that driver if he needs directions?

I do all this and more. First of all, I am a good and nice guy. Second, showing appreciation can really change the outlook of someone else’s day, and also make you feel good.

Finally, appreciation costs nothing and takes little time.

Maya Angelou, American author and poet, said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

To all you truck drivers: A sincere thank you for powering America. I truly appreciate the difficult job that you do day after day.

About David A. Kolman

David A. Kolman, an over-the-road driver for many years, is the Senior Editor of Road King magazine.

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