As this year starts to fade into the review mirror, we are reminded of the monumental moments that have occurred during 2020. We have navigated through a global pandemic, a massive human rights movement, and an unforgettable election year, just to name a few. This year has changed the way we live, work, and interact with others, especially for those in the trucking industry, who were deemed “essential.” One thing is for sure, truck drivers had a historic presence during the past year, one that will not be easily forgotten.
Take a minute to look back at how the trucking industry impacted the world during 2020.
Unarguably the most transformative event of the year was the outbreak of COVID-19 across the world. The pandemic brought unimaginable challenges to everyone, especially those in the trucking industry, as they were at the forefront of ensuring our nation continued to receive essential goods.
Drivers faced obstacles as borders started to shut down, stay-at-home orders were put into place and the country braced for the worst.
Our own team took to the road at the beginning of the pandemic, showing the reality of the American truck driver amid the crisis and helping to feed truck drivers, who struggled to find a decent meal while OTR amidst restaurant and truck stop shut-downs due to COVID-19.
Legislation passed earlier in the year provided temporary relief to truck drivers of some HOS restrictions, tax burdens, and overweight and alcohol regulations. Despite efforts, truckers were still left to fend for themselves in many aspects when it came to finding open rest stops or a good meal.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a historic emergency declaration providing regulatory relief for truckers hauling COVID-19 relief supplies across all 50 states.
The United States recently welcomed the sight of semis carrying the long-awaited vaccine, where once again truck drivers had been called upon to ensure the nation received these essential shipments.
Truck drivers were crucial in supporting the front lines, however, they had doubts about receiving the drug themselves. When we asked drivers if they would receive the vaccine, 1,053 drivers responded with a resounding 79% answering “no.”
Black Lives Matter Movement
The death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, caused truckers across the country to face vandalism, physical attacks, and charges amid outbreaks of civil unrest.
The picture below shows just a glimpse of the destruction some drivers faced. “Trucking companies have so much to worry about right now. This shouldn’t be what they have to be worried about. I’m fearful for my drivers out on the road right now,” William McAllister told CDLLife after the incident.
Truck drivers faced the challenge of traveling through protests as they erupted across their routes, putting their safety on the line to deliver essential goods. Interstates and bridges across the country were shut down by thousands of protesters demanding justice.
At the peak of the movement, when cities across the country began discussing defunding or disbanding their police departments, truck drivers voiced their concerns of safety on CDLLife’s app. Seventy-nine percent of truck drivers said they would refuse to deliver freight to cities with defunded police departments.
As economic uncertainty descended in the early days of the pandemic, truckers across the county organized “MayDay” demonstrations to protest unscrupulous freight brokers, who they say were taking advantage of the chaos to charge unfair rates.
A group of truck drivers spent three weeks parked along Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C. to try to raise awareness about the broker transparency issue. After their airhorns interrupted an interview with the President, Trump later tweeted and spoke out in support of the cause of the truck drivers. The demonstration ended when the drivers were granted a White House meeting with Jim Mullen, who was then the Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff.
Following the election in November, rumors started to circulate about the possibility of a trucker strike.
The initial strike was supported by groups such as StopTheTires2020, Trucker Strike 2020, and truck drivers across other various Internet and social media platforms. The strike was originally planned for November 11th as a way to protest the potential fracking ban, the lack of consideration for truckers during the pandemic, and the results of the 2020 election.
The strike was then pushed back to November 29, and the StopTheTires2020 Facebook group continued to gain momentum and followers.
“November 29th, we park and we don’t move…November 29th is the day we take this country back. Spread the word. It’s our time. We say what happens,” said a driver in a viral Tik Tok.
Almost as quickly as it had started, the StopTheTires2020 protest was canceled by the group’s founder. He claimed its viral overnight explosion lost sight of the page’s original intentions and that he never intended the movement to be disruptive or divisive.
Moments When Truckers Inspired Us
Despite the ups and downs of the past year, there were still many moments where the true trucking spirit showed through. These stories reminded us of all the good truckers do, and the better times that the road ahead will bring.