As I sat in church last weekend, my pastor began to speak on the lesson of “Looking for Holiness.” He asked us to look for signs in the acts of everyday heroes and sheroes, and then he told the following story. He was in the fast lane, on a Friday evening of a 3-day weekend, on the largest freeway in Southern California, when his car decided to simply stop running. As he sat there, waiting for his car service come (anything within the next 30-90 minutes, not including traffic), a big red truck pulled up behind him. The team drivers stopped traffic, came to his window, and offered to push his car across five lanes of heavy traffic to the safety of the emergency lane. He accepted their assistance but before he could thank them or even get their names, they continued on their way, likely trying to make up some time from the holiday traffic.
As an advocate for the trucking industry, I am often disheartened by the countless news articles and headlines disparaging truckers and the trucking industry in general. However, stories like this inspire me to share more good news of the trucking industry. I have represented hundreds of trucking companies and their drivers and have found them to be some of the most down-to-earth, hardworking, and God-fearing men and women I have come across not only in my years of practice, but in my time on this planet. As we are rapidly approaching the end of the first quarter of this year, a year in which trucking companies have already reported their highest increase in freight in 13 years (or a 5.9% increase in freight according to the American Trucking Association), I would like to share some of the headlines featuring the good work truckers and trucking companies are doing across the nation, and beyond!
· The organization Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is working to eliminate human trafficking. The stated goal of the organization is, “to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking.”
· The Women in Trucking (WIT) association is promoting diversity through their partnership with the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association who will now include a category in their Annual Compass Awards for the awareness of minorities and women in the transportation industry.
· Steve Towers, of ACME Haulage in Los Angeles, California made news by pledging funds to help a British boy, Theo Bishop, fly to the United States for surgery to treat his cerebral palsy. Towers also promised to reach out to other trucking companies to help the youth.
· Due to the advocacy of a truck driver’s widow, Sarah VanWasshnova, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers’ Association the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s highway bill will include a study for crashworthiness standards in truck cabs. Ms. VanWasshnova’s husband, a 30-year truck driver, died from blunt force trauma when he hit the steering column in a collision.
· Advocacy by OOIDA and a second truck driver’s widow, Sandy Hardendorf, helped the writing of Jason’s Law when her husband was shot while parked at a gas station. House of Representatives Bill 1803 proposed funding for additional, safe truck parking on our nation’s highways.
· J.B. Hunt Transport Services announced that it is once again raising its quarterly dividend to common shareholders.
· The Trucking Conditions Index reached 7.0 in December indicating an overall improvement in the trucking climate for the coming year.
· Toronto-based, Trucks for Change Network announced the launch of MOVEmatrix, a new program which allows charities to partner with trucking companies to transport goods and other donations.
· In December, Trucker Charity Inc. raised over $7,000 for needy trucking families in time for Christmas. The charitable organization has raised over $37,000 and helped 59 families over the past four years.
And last, but not least,
· In January, Port Arthur, Texas Sherriff’s Officers credited an unknown commercial truck driver with saving the lives of countless individuals in a 50-vehicle pile-up on Highway 73. The driver saw the accident ahead, stopped, activated his four-ways, and alerted all the other truck drivers by CB to “go ahead and shut it down.” According to the officer, “That’s the only thing that stopped this from being a true tragedy.” If anyone knows the identity of this driver, please give him a big “thank you.”
Good news of the trucking industry’s efforts, such as these makes me proud to represent this industry. Keep up the good work and thanks again to all the anonymous drivers helping people one by one each day on the highway, you truly make a difference.
Noelle M. Natoli-Duffy is an Associate at the Los Angeles office of Foley & Mansfield, PLLP. Her civil practice is focused primarily on the defense of trucking, personal injury, and elder abuse claims.