This is the year everyone should thank a driver. Our country’s drivers have overcome incredible logistical and safety hurdles due to COVID-19 to move essential groceries, protective masks, and life-saving healthcare equipment into the hands of those who need them most.
In honor of this year’s Driver Appreciation Week, September 13-19, PAM wants to thank all drivers by celebrating the profession that keeps our country moving, even during a pandemic. Let’s begin by dispelling some of the stereotypes surrounding the driving profession.
Ditching the Driver Stereotypes
In spite of the rebel cowboy stereotypes portrayed in movies like Smokey and the Bandit, today’s driver is an educated, highly-skilled professional who must go through extensive training to master a complex big rig, such as a Peterbilt, Freightliner, or International.
Most drivers have some level of college education, like Dedicated Lane Driver Steve Reeves, who has more than one college degree and served as a medical specialist with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Steve learned multiple languages during his service abroad, and this experience served him well when he worked in law enforcement. But it wasn’t until he started working in transportation that he felt valued for his extensive skill sets.
“Today I think about where I’d be in my driving career if I had started in transportation as soon as I got out of the military,” Steve says. “I could have been a lot further down the road, both professionally and financially.”
Veterans like Steve have faced blue collar stereotypes associated with the military, but PAM celebrates vets with our Patriot Ride Fleet, driven by a veteran from each respective branch: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines.
“PAM goes the extra mile to help transition veterans into civilian careers, with a 12-month paid training program designed to help us master the necessary skills to become professional truck drivers,” Steve says. “Plus, veterans can now earn up to $1,900 a month in a housing allowance through their Honor Road Apprenticeship Program.”
Recognizing Women Driving Professionals
According to OTR Team Driver Debra Maxwell, she gets a lot of animosity in her profession, even though she has the same skill sets as any male driver.
“People are genuinely surprised when they find out I drive a truck,” she says. “But some people are impressed when they find out I’m a driver.”
Her husband/driving partner James says he doesn’t understand why women drivers don’t receive more respect in their industry. He says Debra is more careful behind the wheel than many of the male drivers he knows.
“Debra’s been driving accident-free for 11 years,” James says. “We’re a successful PAM driving team because we’re both careful. We watch everybody else and not just ourselves when we’re on the road.”
Driver Mentor Vicki Fowler says any woman can drive a truck, because it doesn’t take physical prowess to operate today’s semi.
“You can be a tiny, fragile little thing and you can still climb into this truck – as long as you’re attentive to your driving and to what’s around you,” she says. “We have lots of women drivers at PAM, and we’re showing men we can do this! This job takes training and skill. Nobody, male or female, was born knowing how to drive a truck.”
Celebrating PAM Drivers During Driver Appreciation Week
PAM always appreciates our drivers, but we go all out every year during Driver Appreciation Week. This year we’re giving away even more prizes in our annual driver raffle, from Vizio TVs and Samsung tablets to practical items drivers can use on the road, like mobile device chargers and all-weather jackets. Plus, we’re offering VISA gift cards, as well as gift cards to many of the restaurants and truck stops that cater to our valued profession.
There will be plenty of food and fun at our PAM terminals, but our drivers don’t have to go to any of the terminals to enter the raffle. Every driver name will go into the hat! Our drivers move America’s freight across the nation and for that PAM honors drivers who have earned our appreciation!
PAM Driver Appreciation Schedule – September 14-18
- Tontitown, Laredo, Irving, North Jackson, & North Little Rock:
- Warren/Romulus (@Romulus Shop) & Willard:
M, T, W, and F, 2PM-5PM
- Fort Wayne:
M-F, 6-10AM and 4-6PM