Through rain, sleet, snow and every other weather condition we can name, trucks travel the highways and byways in an effort to deliver freight. It is not always an easy job meeting those important deadlines and destinations. Truck drivers spend up to 11 hours a day driving, and up to 14 hours a day engaged in various duties (including driving time) such as fueling, filling out paperwork, obtaining vehicle repairs and conducting mandatory vehicle inspections. Long-haul drivers often spend weeks away from home, spending their time off and sleeping at truck stops or rest areas. Driving is relatively dangerous work, as truck drivers account for 12 percent and the highest total number of all work-related deaths, and are five times more likely to die on the job than the average worker.
The importance of trucking is communicated by the industry adage: "If you bought it, a truck brought it”. Retail stores, hospitals, gas stations, waste disposal, construction sites, banks, and even a clean water supply depends entirely upon trucks to distribute vital cargo. Before a product reaches store shelves, the raw materials and other stages of production materials that go into manufacturing any given product are moved by trucks.
Over 80 percent of all communities in the US rely exclusively on trucks to deliver all of their fuel, clothing, medicine, and other consumer goods. The trucking industry employs 10 million people in jobs that relate directly to trucking.
Truck Drivers keep our country running, quite simply, in every way.
In 1983, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company launched “The North American Highway Hero Program to honor acts of valor performed by truck drivers. This program was created to “improve the public perception of responsible and heroic drivers from the trucking industry”.
“… The North American Highway Hero Program was launched by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to locate, honor and publicize those truck drivers who clearly qualify for the rare label of ‘hero.’”
The four intrepid men nominated for the 30th North American Highway Hero Award placed themselves in harm’s way and took courageous action to save the lives of others. The winner of the Goodyear Tires event, Kevin Harte, was announced on March 21 during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. He received a plaque, a special Highway Hero ring and $5,000, according to TireReview.com. The three other finalists received a plaque and cash award. The nominees were:
Chad Dickey – Wadena, Minn., Tony’s Transfer
One night while driving near Chattanooga, Tenn., Dickey encountered the debris of an 18-wheeler strewn across the highway. He stopped his truck and investigated the scene with his flashlight. The beam illuminated the tracks that lead to a nearby ditch. A truck driver, Lewis Boyd, was strapped to the 18-wheeler’s seat with a massive laceration in his leg. Suffering from rapid blood loss and passing in and out of consciousness, Boyd was kept alert due to Dickey’s actions. Dickey mitigated the bleeding by applying a tourniquet to Boyd’s leg for 30 minutes until rescue personnel arrived on scene. Boyd was subsequently airlifted to a local hospital, where he remained for more than a month to recuperate from his injuries.
David Williams – Angier, N.C., Schneider National
During a rainstorm in Wilmington, N.C., Williams happened upon a disabled car facing oncoming traffic. He set safety cones around the car and directed traffic away from the site. A pickup truck suddenly approached him at an unsafe velocity. Williams leapt from the speeding pickup’s trajectory and narrowly missed being hit. The pickup struck the back of Williams’ rig and combusted. Williams pulled the truck’s passenger from the fiery wreck while the driver escaped. He then assisted to extinguish the pickup’s flames.
Christopher Burgess – Ravenna, Ohio, Independent
Burgess was driving down a steep hill in Akron, Ohio when, after picking up 15 tons of sand when the truck’s brakes failed. Struggling to remain in control of the vehicle, which was speeding toward a busy intersection at approximately 50 miles per hour, Burgess flailed his arms and honked the truck’s horn. He adeptly steered though the intersection, avoiding all automobiles and pedestrians. Burgess maneuvered between two occupied buildings and drove toward bushes and trees. After his vehicle struck the tree, it dropped into the river below. Burgess did not survive the accident.
Winner: Jason Harte – Rogers, Ark., Sammons Trucking Driver
As Harte drove down a Wyoming interstate, he witnessed a pickup truck push a minivan off the road which then struck another car and pushed it onto the highway median. After dialing 911, Harte rescued a trapped man, woman and their six-month-old baby from the van. To rescue the three other children from within the van, Harte utilized his past EMT experience. He pulled out the most accessible child, and then began performing first aid on the second child from the van’s back hatch. He rescued the third child by pulling apart seats and cutting seatbelts. Even after rescue crews arrived, Harte tending to the victims’ injuries until ambulances hauled them away.
Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems director of marketing, Gary Medalis, commented on Jason Harte’s heroic deed, as stated on GoodYearTruckTires.com. “Jason’s decision to offer assistance is a powerful example of the selflessness exhibited by professional truck drivers. Because of his actions, lives, in all probability, were saved. For this, Jason has earned the right to be called a hero.” http://blog.meezer.com/car-talk/highway-hero-2013-honoring-valorous-truck-drivers
Just a recent as this week, we have witnessed truck drivers in Atlanta, GA assisting stranded motorists just as they did here in Texas during the ice storm. Not only do these hardworking individuals help keep our economy moving, many are truly angels in disguise.
If you know a trucker, or just happen to meet one, tell them thank you, for the depths of their sacrifices and acts of service to us may go largely unacknowledged. They are TRULY the wheels that keep us all MOVING FORWARD.