By Robert Lake
Two years ago, Sheryl Youngblood, a Ph.D working in the field of industrial organization, started KnightTime, a non-profit organization to foster recognition of the relationship between the trucking industry, highway motorists, law enforcement, regulators in Washington and the public perception of trucking. Her organization sponsors trucker appreciation events to increase public awareness of trucking issues.
On Sept. 10, the second annual International Highway Interdependence Day Celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic, Pa. There will be a People’s Choice Award truck beauty contest, National Guard vehicle tours, antique fire truck rides, show trucks, hybrid trucks and motorcycle displays.
The annual event attracts truckers and motorists and gives both a chance to interact with the other. Truckers and motorists are encouraged to sign the Declaration of Highway Interdependence at the event or online, pledging themselves to work toward “creating highways that work for everyone.”
Youngblood says she’s excited to see her organization already making a difference in truckers’ lives. “The negative stereotypes in the media came about because people don’t understand how interdependent we are on each other,” she says. “My goal is to encourage mutual understanding between trucking and non-trucking.”
Her research into the psyche of truckers and a weeklong over-the-road trip with a trucker friend resulted in her commitment to improving the life of truckers and to get that information out to the driving public.
“My research showed that 72 percent of truck drivers have a strong belief that their work is important to society, and 88 percent of drivers surveyed believe it is important to help their fellow drivers, maintain a professional attitude and appearance and to drive in a courteous, safe way,” she says. “They also express strong concern when they see other drivers engage in unsafe driving practices.”
It’s that other 12 percent that fuel the public’s often negative perception.
“The problem is, it’s human nature to remember the bad,” Youngblood says. “That’s why it’s so important to constantly highlight the good things that the true Knights of the Road do.”
For more information on Youngblood’s research and trucker appreciation programs, check out her website.