When a semi passes you on the highway, do you ever stop to think about all they do to make sure your products get to your store or home? Do you ever wonder how they provide for their own family’s basic needs? What their emotional or physical health state is behind the wheel of that multi-ton truck?
Truckers face a great deal of adversity in the course of their careers. Many independent truckers lack employer-sponsored health coverage and find individual policies too costly. The pressure to deliver on time creates debilitating fatigue in many, increasing accident risk. In an attempt to help this population, Grammy-nominated music artist Joe Nichols recently teamed up with the St. Christopher’s Truckers Relief Fund to help raise awareness for the charity’s mission.
What Is the St. Christopher’s Truckers Relief Fund?
Dave Nemo and Michael Burns founded the St. Christopher’s Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) to assist semi-truck drivers struggling to survive as the result of an illness or injury keeping them off the job. Fully, 70 percent of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. suffer one or more serious illnesses such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
What complicates matters is, independent truckers have no access to employer-sponsored health coverage. As such, they must buy their own health insurance policies. The problem arises from the fact most rookie truckers earn only $40,000 per year on average, too little to afford to purchase policies costing hundreds per month. As a result, many go without — meaning if injury or illness strikes, they, like many Americans, may declare bankruptcy over hefty bills.
Trucking qualifies as a high-risk profession. Many truckers log long hours on the road to meet delivery deadlines. This puts them at risk for drowsy driving, which plays a role in 9 percent of all accidents and 11 percent of severe ones.
Automobile accidents can result in devastating injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), for example, cost millions to treat over the cost of a lifetime, and this only reflects doctor and hospital bills. Many people who suffer TBIs find themselves unable to work, further exacerbating their financial woes. And truckers need to meet physical fitness requirements to continue their careers.
While the SCF doesn’t pay medical bills directly, it aims to help truckers with the financial hardships following injury or illness. To fulfill their mission, they need funding. Which is why Joe Nichols stepped up to the plate.
What the Collaboration Between Nichols and SCF Aims to Achieve
Joe Nichols began his country music career with the Rodeo Band but reached critical acclaim with songs like, “Brokenheartsville.” The Grammy-nominated superstar lost his father to complications from lung disease at the age of 46. His father, a former trucker, contracted the disease due to exposure to diesel fumes.
Nichols cites transportation industry workers as some of the hardest-working Americans out there. And their needs often go unmet. He’s proud to partner with the SCF to raise awareness of the needs of the organization.
In addition to providing temporary financial assistance, the SCF aims to arm truckers with preventative health care resources as well. They offer smoking cessation help and free flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccinations. It costs far less to prevent disease than to treat it after it occurs.
Given Nichol’s rise to fame, his sponsorship will inspire many who may otherwise remain unaware of the trials truckers face to donate to the cause. It could also inspire them to take political action to bring about positive change. For example, offering a public option for health care or switching to a single-payer Medicare-for-All system would provide truckers and other independent contractors the peace of mind they deserve in knowing one injury or illness won’t result in bankruptcy or even death.
In the meantime, though, our nation’s truckers deserve better. And Nichols is going above and beyond to do his part!
Supporting Our Nation’s Truckers
We rely upon truckers to get our products to our stores and homes. But few of us give pause to consider what the industry does to worker health. With further collaboration between recording artists and organizations like the SCF, we can provide drivers the resources they need to keep everyone safer on our nations’ highways. Those interested in supporting the SCF in their mission can connect with them on social media and donate through their website.