These letters appears in the March 7 print edition of Transport Topics.
Letters: Proud to Be a Retired Professional Truck Driver
I am a proud retired professional driver with more than 44 years and 5.3 million accident-free miles behind the wheel. On Jan. 20, I stepped down from the truck and out from behind the wheel for the last time. Since then, I have had time to reflect on the choice I made more than four decades ago and the impact this proud profession has had on me, my family, my country and my community. The impact it has had on me is profound in the fact that every decision I made, every load I hauled and every safe mile I drove had a direct effect on someone. Decisions made by the professional truck driver range in the hundreds each trip, and each decision may be life-changing and lifesaving. The life-changing decisions may involve getting a load to a destination promptly and safely. There may be goods on our trailers that are medical supplies for a hospital, groceries to stock shelves at a supermarket or parts to a machine to get a factory back online. There are many ways to get what this country needs on a daily basis, but trucks are the only way to get it to the front door. I’ve never seen a ship docked at a Home Depot, never seen a plane land at a Wal-Mart or a train deliver gas at my corner station. We serve this country daily for its everyday needs. Every decision a driver has to make when he or she is behind the wheel is potentially lifesaving. Drivers are making numerous decisions that affect highway safety over possibly a 10- to 11-hour period. I, as a driver, have always felt safe miles are lifesaving and life-changing miles. The impact this profession has had on my family has been huge. Each member has had the opportunity to go to college and leave with no debt. My home is paid for, I have no debt, and I’m in retirement with financial security. This industry has truly blessed me and my family. My community has benefited from this wonderful industry in so many ways. For example, the past several weeks after an F4 tornado ripped through Garland and Rowlett, Texas, the trucking industry was right there. The aid, command centers, cleanup and rebuilding cannot be done without trucks and the drivers behind the wheel. There are many disasters that seem to happen in communities across this country every year, with broken hearts and devastation left behind. I take great pride in knowing that my profession will always be called on to help mend broken hearts and help rebuild the future for those affected. I must say that if the industry I served is not the heartbeat of this great country, it is certainly the life’s flow on the highways across this great land that keeps it functioning as the greatest in the world.
Gary G Babbitt
America’s Road Team Captain
2013 ATA National Driver of the Year