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OPINION: Beat Down and Vilified, Trucking Always Delivers for Louisiana in Crisis

By LMTA Executive Director Chance McNeely

OPINION ARTICLE BY LMTA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CHANCE MCNEELY:

BATON ROUGE, LA – Three weeks ago, the Louisiana trucking industry had strong hopes that 2020 would be the year the Louisiana Legislature threw a life-jacket out into the unforgiving waters of the commercial auto insurance market. Facing uncertainty and impacts from COVID-19, what can be accomplished this year is unknown.

Among all of the unknowns, the ability of the trucking industry to deliver during a crisis has not and will not be called into question. The truck driver is and has always been the unsung hero, connecting all the dots between producers and consumers, keeping the world going around without a hitch.

As Louisiana truck drivers work overtime to deliver critical supplies to hospitals, manufacturers, retailers, and homes, it is heartwarming to see the outpouring of support for our industry. To the truck stops, restaurants, and citizens who have gone out of their way to support truck drivers in this crisis, thank you. It does not go unnoticed. The expression of appreciation means a lot to the thousands of men and women who are working hard for all of us.

Despite all that has changed in three week's time that may make a driver feel more respected, a driver's view along the highways of Louisiana are still plagued by anti-truck attorney billboards. It's a chilling reminder of our recent past, and calls into question whether or not things can change in the aftermath of this disaster.

As thousands of Louisiana families struggle to pay their bills after having been laid-off recently, they should remember the cost that auto accident litigation has on every Louisiana family. For every "big truck wreck" lawsuit, the cost of life's necessities like bread and milk go up. The cost of everyone's insurance goes up, too, among other things.

As you shelter in place and have time to reflect on what is truly important in life, think about this: you work hard to provide for your family and it is more evident now than ever that truck drivers have your back. Have the guys with catchy slogans standing on top of trucks ever done a thing to help our State? Where are they now? My guess would be comfortably waiting out the storm in their multi-million dollar estates, while real working people "get it done" for Louisiana.

Trucks in Louisiana cost 4-6 times more to insure than in other states, but our highways actually have less major accidents involving trucks than the US average. We are at the end of our rope. Take time to thank a trucker, and take time to demand action from your legislators to save the industry who saves Louisiana, not only in crisis, but every single day.

The Louisiana Motor Transport Association (LMTA) represents the State's 5,800 trucking companies and 88,000 employees. McNeely serves as Executive Director, leading advocacy efforts for Louisiana trucking at the state, local, and federal level. McNeely can be reached at chance@lmta.la.