Despite the difficulties and disruptions to business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, trucking remains a driving force. Although some sectors of the trucking industry are struggling and most companies are dealing with specific challenges, trucking has continued to provide critical necessities like groceries, fuel, electronics, construction materials, etc.
During the past two to three months while many are self-distancing and working from home, truckers have continued to work. The Utah Trucking Association staff has fielded countless calls of appreciation for trucking companies and drivers, often referring to them as front-line or heroes. Maintaining the supply chain will be critical to rebuilding Utah and the nation’s economy.
Trucking is crucial to Utah’s health and well-being. In Utah 81 percent of the communities rely exclusively on trucks to move their goods. Seventy-seven percent of Utah’s total manufactured tonnage is transported by truck, which equates to nearly 100,000 tons per day. There are more than 7,000 trucking companies based in Utah and they employ nearly 80,000 people — or one of 15 jobs in the state.
The trucking industry is committed to being good neighbors. It continue to enhance safety and minimize commercial vehicle accidents. Utah trucking companies invest millions in advanced safety technologies, driver training and actively participate in local and national safety initiatives. In Utah, the industry has partnered with UDOT’s Zero Fatalities program and has provided trucks, trailers and drivers to teach tens of thousands of driver education students the importance of sharing the road with big rigs. Utah’s commercial vehicle fatal crash rate is one of the best in the country. The national fatal crash rate per 100 million miles traveled is 1.34. The Utah fatal crash rate through 2016 was 0.23. Trucking industry leaders understand that while the Utah fatal crash rate is lower than most other states, any fatality is too many and they are devoted to further reducing commercial vehicle accidents and fatalities.
Further evidence of the trucking industry’s desire to be good neighbors is its ongoing efforts to reduce emissions. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, new diesel truck engines produce 98 percent fewer particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions than a similar engine manufactured prior to 1990 and sulfur emissions from diesel engines have been reduced by 97 percent since 1999.
One of the industry's greatest challenges is a shortage of qualified drivers. Most trucking company officials, are on the lookout for hard working reliable individuals who would be excited about driving a state-of-the-art piece of equipment while earning a good income.