Maryland truck drivers work to support local and national economy

08/02/2022| Amanda Winters

Maryland truck drivers work to support local and national economy

08/02/2022 | Amanda Winters

As global supply chain challenges continue, one industry is working to make sure Marylanders receive their goods right on time.

In the past year, we’ve seen Maryland become a leader in managing the disruptions. The Port of Baltimore took on diverted ships and new customers to help alleviate the strain, and the Howard Street Tunnel expansion project officially broke ground to accommodate double-stacked container freight trains traveling across the country.

But even with these efforts in place, the bulk of cargo handled at the port is still transported by truck, making Maryland’s truck drivers essential to not just the state and the surrounding Mid Atlantic, but the entire country.

According to the Maryland Motor Truck Association (MMTA), nearly 93 percent of Maryland communities  depend exclusively on trucks to transport goods. That means more than 162,000 tons – or 96 percent – of manufactured essentials are moved by Maryland truckers each and every day.

And with more than 116,000 trucking industry jobs in the state, and the state’s bustling distribution and logistics sector helping deliver products at rapid speed, there’s no denying the industry’s impact on the economy.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a period of time where truckers have been as popular as they are during the pandemic, or have their essentiality so well illustrated,” said Louis Campion, president and CEO of MMTA. “Some communities have no rail, and no water access, to receive goods. Ultimately, these [goods] all move on a truck at some point.”

The trucking industry touches everything from groceries and water to critical medical instruments and medicine to housing and construction equipment. With help from Maryland’s safe, efficient network of roadways, combined with its strategic Mid Atlantic location, local truckers are able to deliver their goods to customers quickly and effectively.

But during the early stages of the pandemic, MMTA had to advocate for its members and determine if each group was still considered “essential” based on its truckload. Campion shares that the group collaborated with the Port of Baltimore, Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, and Governor Hogan’s office to determine exceptions to the pandemic orders.

“We were more engaged than ever before,” said Campion. “There was a big need for that [essential] validation and to identify the information coming out. We worked to make sure that truckers were allowed to operate for extended periods or include additional weight to make sure essential goods were delivered.”

Since 1935, MMTA has advocated for the trucking industry through education, regulatory assistance, and training seminars. Earlier this year, the MMTA and the Maryland State Police selected Maryland trucker Gary Eastwood  from Pitt Ohio’s Glen Burnie terminal as Driver of the Year. The nonprofit names 12 truck drivers as Drivers of the Month throughout the year, and ultimately selects one nominee for the yearly award.

Eastwood is known for his impressive driving record—including 3.2 million miles over the past 32 years without an accident. He has also helped other drivers in need, including a fellow trucker whose trailer was on fire, and was first on the scene to help police and emergency medical personnel with a fatal accident.

“My dad learned something most people never do, there is no end, no finish line to being a good dad, a good person, or a good truck driver,” said Eastwood’s daughter, Natalie.

With each Driver of the Month records combined, the MMTA honored more than 380 years of experience and 26 million miles of safe driving over the past year. The organization currently represents more than 1,000 member companies across Maryland and is considered one of the largest trucking associations in the U.S.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking industry wages pay more than $6 billion in Maryland,” said Campion. “We are a 24/7 operation and that has continued throughout the pandemic. Our members are essential.”

Maryland’s robust transportation network gives you easy access by water, rail, road and air. Learn more about our integrated transportation infrastructure.

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