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Opinion — Truck Driver Appreciation Week

Take a look at your surroundings. Are you inside your home, office or classroom? Are you at a coffee shop? Perhaps you are in a waiting room or sitting outside on a porch or near a garden.

Pause for a moment and consider the items within your field of view. Can you see a table or desk, some dishes, pictures on a wall or even the wall itself? Can you see a building or vehicle? Is there any crushed rock or concrete? How about a fence or flower pot? Can you spot a hoe, shovel or rake?

No matter where you cast your gaze, a truck probably played an important role in the life cycle of almost every product you see. If the finished item itself was not delivered by a truck, its components or the tools required for its upkeep probably were.

Truck Driver Appreciation Week, observed this year Sept. 12 – 18, is a weeklong event sponsored by the American Trucking Associations in honor of the way truck drivers help make our lives better. The U.S. trucking industry employs 3.6 million professional drivers. Annually, they log 400 billion miles and deliver more than 10 billion tons of goods. Food, fuel, medicine and clothing: it all arrives by truck.

The trucking industry strengthens the backbone of our country’s economy, and SVCC is proud to contribute to its success. Our Truck Driver Training School (TDTS) began operating in 1996. So far, we’ve graduated 2,400 students. This unique program is a source of pride at SVCC!

Duncan Quicke, instructor and TDTS coordinator, says, “For the past 25 years I have proudly watched our dedicated students work hard to build better lives for their families. These men and women dedicate themselves to our six-week program, test out with Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles, and get recruited by some of the best companies in the world.”

In fact, more than 75 companies have hired, and continue to hire, our students. Those companies include many that serve in the local area and others with fleets deployed nationwide.

Brian Sheridan, a representative for Wisconsin-based Schneider National, recently remarked, “I travel to a lot of driving schools across the country, specifically in Virginia. Southside Virginia Community College holds one of the highest standards for education and for fostering a great experience for employers and students.”

Murvin Ivory, another industry leader, retired from a 14-year career as a Motor Carrier Trooper with the Virginia State Police to begin a new position as a consultant for a trucking company. He says, “When I am faced with dilemmas and challenges in my new job, quite often I will call on the experts at the TDTS at SVCC to help guide me through them. Those guys do a great job of preparing their students for careers in the trucking profession.”

The need for truck drivers continues to grow. Projections Central, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, reported that the Commonwealth of Virginia would experience nearly 6,000 annual openings for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

Truck driver training at SVCC is available in Blackstone at Fort Pickett and in South Boston and Emporia. Classes are structured to mimic normal workdays. Students receive hands-on driving practice along with instruction about topics such as maintenance, highway safety and pre-trip inspections. For more information, contact Duncan Quicke (434)-292-1650 or duncan.quicke@southside.edu) or visit https://southside.edu/truck-driving-training.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans 10 counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.