According to various industry sources, we’re in the middle of #NTDAW: National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.
A quick search of this hashtag on Twitter nets quite a few random thoughts, including free lunches from various companies for their drivers, a focus on wellness, fun facts about trucking, branded trinket giveaways, and general promotion of the industry.
Through both truckerlawyers.com and the firm, attorneys here do quite a bit of work with truck drivers, mainly workers’ compensation for company drivers. So I find it amusing, if not misguided and problematic, that many of these companies “celebrate” their drivers with one week a year of token gestures like a “free lunch” if you’re close enough to the terminal to take advantage of it. This is at the same time that these companies work hard to delay, deny and sometimes even ignore workers’ compensation claims of their injured drivers.
Every industry has its challenges, and trucking seems to have issues with driver retention, a perceived “shortage” of drivers, and just not paying drivers enough for the conditions that they live in on a daily basis. The way a company treats its employees says a lot, whether those employees are hurt or not. For example, truck drivers are protected under federal laws when they get hurt or become a whistleblower for refusing to drive an unsafe truck, as that decision easily affects others sharing the road. That being said, getting fired for reporting a workers’ compensation claim is obviously disruptive to drivers and their loved ones. In addition, especially since drivers are on the road so much, it is even more hurtful if they cannot take FMLA for a loved one’s medical emergency, even if the driver works for a larger company. Also, just a reminder, if a trucker gets hurt, it’s up to that driver to let the company know so that down the road, a person can get needed workers’ compensation benefits.
Over the years, I’ve found that many injured drivers just want to figure out how they can get well and get back to their lives and work. They are very dedicated and loyal to their profession, so it is important that injured drivers get the care they need in a timely manner without businesses or insurance companies putting up roadblocks to that care.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t actually say thank you to drivers who work very diligently, away from their loved ones, to deliver the goods that folks consume. I also appreciate the majority of drivers who work hard to be safe every day and watch out on the roads for others. It’s my observation that truck driving is more than an industry, it’s a lifestyle. Happy NTDAW, be safe, and take care.