Groceries began reappearing on American store shelves this week, thanks to the strength of a supply chain that includes farmers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers — all of whom are literally risking their lives to stay on duty.
A crucial part of that supply chain is the American trucker, who makes sure that goods are delivered in a timely fashion. That is always the case, but it is especially true in the sudden global emergency we face today.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that 3.5 million Americans are employed as truck drivers. Many work long hours, and a disproportionate number of them are military veterans.
They are on the front lines once again.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) noted Sunday:
Major national crises tend to expose underlying truths about society that otherwise go unnoticed during life’s regular routines. They reveal the individuals among us who are truly essential to upholding the high standard of living we’ve collectively come to expect. They remind us of America’s unsung heroes.
The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic is no different. The spread of Coronavirus in the U.S. will test government institutions, challenge private industry and place inordinate demands on our most critical workforce. It will marshal the full strength of our nation and elevate its essential core.
And just as they do when a hurricane strikes or a blizzard hits, America’s professional truck drivers will be on the front lines delivering critical supplies and aid to fellow citizens.
Over the past week, Americans have rushed to stock up on goods as they prepare to hunker down to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. We’ve watched schools, businesses, major sports and other cultural pillars come to a complete stop as personal health and well-being take top priority.
But one thing that won’t stop: trucking.
For the past few years, it became fashionable to talk about the advent of self-driving trucks, as technology improved and automation seemed inevitable. But in 2018, Uber abandoned its self-driving truck project, and other companies have also hit snags in development.
The idea is not impossible, and may even become necessary if, theoretically, too many truckers are sick to take to the roads. The world is likely to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic more automated, not less, than before.
Yet trucking — by human beings, men and women who have to go beyond “social distancing” to keep the supply lines running — remains the nation’s indispensable defense against the pandemic.
“[T]here’s one thing all Americans can do right now: Thank a trucker,” the ATA concludes. “Especially during trying times like these. Because without them, the disruptions we’re experiencing would be something much, much worse.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.