In the trucking industry, a single driver deciding to quit is a relatively minor inconvenience. and even a company’s entire line of drivers quitting would only result in delays. ost people across the country would be minimally affected — life would go on as it always has.But what if trucking as an industry ceased to exist overnight?
Statistics tell us that the sudden loss of the trucking industry would be catastrophic. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), about 71% of all freight tonnage moved around the US is transported on trucks. In this blog, we’ll take a quick look at just how important the trucking industry is based on what would happen if the trucking industry collapsed and all the products transported via truck never made it to their destination.
Here’s a brief timeline of what you could expect if truckers in America suddenly ceased to exist:
Within 24 Hours:
- Many basic medical supplies that rely on regular deliveries (such as syringes, linens, scrubs, gauze, catheters, and products like insulin) would begin to run out at hospitals and medical facilities across the nation.
- Short-lifespan medicines, such as radiopharmaceuticals used in cancer treatments, would expire.
- Many hospitals and nursing homes without significant warehousing capabilities will completely exhaust their food supplies.
- “Just-in-time” manufacturers that run based on quick delivery of parts and components only hours prior to assembly (such as many companies in the automotive and computer hardware industries) will shut down their assembly lines within hours.
Within Two to Three Days:
- Many pharmacies would run out of seasonal pharmaceuticals, such as antibiotics and flu shots.
- Every gas station across America would run out of gas.
- Trash and litter pileup due to a lack of garbage pickups would begin to create severe health hazards in urban and suburban areas.
- Waste-processing facilities will be unable to operate equipment such as backhoes and incinerators, creating breeding grounds for insects, vermin, and dangerous microorganisms.
- Emergency consumer behavior would cause most stores will run out of basic consumer products such as bottled water, canned goods, and paper products. (Some estimates even suggest that food shortages could begin within 24 hours.)
- Most ATMs and bank branches would completely run out of paper money, leaving many small and medium-sized businesses and countless people without access to cash.
Within One Week:
- Most hospitals will have run out of oxygen supplies.
- Almost all automobile travel across the nation will have ceased, leading to labor shortages and severely limiting the availability of fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances.
- Most water traffic and virtually all air and rail traffic across the country will have ceased.
- Mail and package delivery services will completely cease.
- Ineffective waste removal services will lead to hazardous chemicals being released into soil, water, and the atmosphere.
Within a Month:
- Sheer volume of uncollected waste could block water runoff and drainage, leading to potential pooling and flooding.
- The nation’s clean water supply will be exhausted, weakening the already-strained healthcare system even further as gastrointestinal diseases spread across the country.
Keep in mind, these are just some of the immediate effects that a loss of the trucking industry would cause in the United States without taking into account the various ripple effects that the loss of one resource could have on the availability of others.
Likewise, the lack of availability of fuel and other critical resources would critically impair vital government bodies such as the Department of Defense. In fact, the ATA suggests that lack of resources to Washington D.C. and the surrounding states would bring the federal government to a grinding halt in as little as two to three weeks, leading to unimaginable civil unrest.
Could we live without the trucking industry? You tell me.
The next time you talk to a truck driver, thank them for coming into work that day — our lives depend on it!