Throughout the pandemic, and now with tight capacity and lack of inventory on shelves, drivers are filling one of America’s most essential positions, moving 72% of domestic freight with their trucks.
While many consumers can be found using hashtags like #thankadriver on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, multiple nonprofit organizations work to address workplace issues that burden these vital workers.
In this AskWaves, FreightWaves examines four organizations and their efforts to improve drivers’ work life.
St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF)
SCF was founded in 2007 by John McElligott, SiriusXM Radio host Dave Nemo and Michael Burns, who had observed a number of truck drivers and their families struggling after accidents or illness took them off the road.
Many truck drivers are paid per mile, so if they are not driving, they are not able to support their family, often having nowhere to turn for financial support. SCF’s main goal is to be there and support families with direct payment for living expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, vehicle payments and insurance.
Secondly, the organization is committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle for drivers.
According to SCF, 70% of professional truck drivers in the U.S. have had one or more serious health issues throughout their career — a career that does not always come with health insurance. These issues include obesity, diabetes, sleep disorders and cardiovascular disease, often fueled by lack of fresh food and high levels of nicotine addiction.
SCF provides a number of programs to help drivers kick smoking and lower their chances of diabetes.
Since its inception, the organization has helped 3,342 truck drivers and has spent over $3,795,000 providing programs and support for drivers.
If you are interested in getting involved with SCF, visit truckersfund.org.
Women in Trucking Association (WIT)
According to recent Department of Labor data, only 7.8% of truck drivers are women, with many obstacles keeping women from becoming a part of the industry.
In 2007, WIT was founded with a mission to encourage female employment in trucking and the transportation industry as a whole, to address obstacles including flexible work schedules and professional development, and to celebrate the success of trucking companies prioritizing women’s issues.
WIT promotes its mission in a number of creative ways, mostly focused on development of women in their careers through mentorship and training programs.
The Girl Scout Patch program, for instance, encourages transportation companies to host and support Girl Scout events to introduce young women to the supply chain industry. Since 2014, 1,690 girls have earned their WIT patch.
In August, the group began a new leadership-mentoring program called LeadHERtrucking, in which new drivers are paired with experienced female drivers for 10 months and attend virtual meetings and classes together to discuss challenges women face on the road, including mental health issues, financial independence and how to become a leader in a male-dominated industry.
To become a member of WIT or help spread its message, visit womenintrucking.org.
Trucking Cares Foundation (TCF)
A new nonprofit organization spun out of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is the Trucking Cares Foundation. Its mission is to improve the safety of drivers and enhance the security and sustainability of highways and communities as well.
There are five main areas TCF has dedicated itself to, including workforce development, improving the industry’s relationship with the military and law enforcement, providing for disaster relief, ending human trafficking, and improving highway safety.
TCF significantly supports ATAs’ America’s Road Team, a small group consisting of the most professional, safe and dedicated drivers in the industry who travel across the country teaching communities the importance of the trucking industry.
The Road Team’s Interstate One tractor trailer is used to visit classrooms, media teams and policymakers to teach them firsthand what drivers can and cannot see on the roads and what it actually takes for drivers to be safe on the highway.
To learn more about the TCF, visit truckingcares.org.
Meals for 18 Wheels
Meals for 18 Wheels is a true grassroots organization run completely off its Facebook page, which has over 18,000 members.
The group’s mission is very simple: Help drivers who need a meal.
Working with members across the contiguous United States, drivers can message the group between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. CST, and group leaders work with volunteers to meet their needs.
The group only provides meals to drivers who are in worst-case scenarios — for example, if they are broke down with no access to food or stuck at a shipper or receiver facility overnight.
It is easy to get involved with the group. Simply follow or like its Facebook page and you will be notified of situations in which volunteers are needed to deliver meals.
Due to the size and responsiveness of the group members, drivers are often provided with food within the hour.