Since the semi-truck was invented in 1898 by Alexander Winton, the American Trucking Industry has rolled on and been driven to incredible heights becoming one of the largest and most important industries in the United States. American Trucking has survived dark times, always lighting the way to a better and brighter future for the industry and for America as a whole. The story of the trucking industry is one of perseverance, triumph, and improvement, and this spirit persists to the present.
Trucking Through Time
We have already discussed the history of the semi-truck in a previous post that you can check out here, but the story of the industry built around the machine is equally as interesting. The first commercial semi-truck was built as an answer to the increased need for the transportation of goods across the country. The first major use of trucks was by the military in World War 1, though after the war, the increase of paved roads across the country made it possible for the industry to take hold for civilian purposes in the 1930s. Once the industry was well established, it became subject to regulations as it and other occupations began to grow and expand.
Growth and Expansion
20 years later the interstate system in the United States was created, allowing for easier and faster national transport of goods. This allowed for major expansion and improvement of the trucking industry, making it more reliable and efficient. The advancement of temperature-controlled trucking, first invented in 1925, but improved upon greatly in the 40s and 50s allowed for the safe delivery of pharmaceuticals and food products as well.
Music and Protest
In the 1960s and 1970s the American Trucking industry became more prevalent in the public eye with many songs being written about it while gaining incredible popularity. There was something about the subject matter of trucking songs, the long coast to coast drives, traveling through wide open spaces, and the struggles that drivers faced that greatly touched the American public. During the early 70s, the trucking industry took a major hit when the energy crises of 1973 and 1979 incited protests and strikes by many drivers who were upset by rising fuel prices.
Dysregulation and Further Growth
In 1980 the Motor Carrier Act was passed by President Carter. The Act decreased the governmental regulations on the industry which allowed owners of fleets and individual drivers more liberty in the management of their business. President Carter said this about the act: “This is historic legislation. It will remove 45 years of excessive and inflationary Government restrictions and red tape. It will have a powerful anti-inflationary effect, reducing consumer costs by as much as $8 billion each year. And by ending wasteful practices, it will conserve annually hundreds of millions of gallons of precious fuel. All the citizens of our Nation will benefit from this legislation.”
Now and the Future
The trucking industry has come to dominate the United States transportation industry, replacing the horses and carriages of the previous centuries, long lines of trains, and even exceeding air transport in volume and efficiency. Now the trucking industry is entering a new era with the rest of the digital age. There are now online blogs about trucking, websites and magazines that allow drivers to communicate with their peers across the world (like you’re doing right now), and the rise of electric trucks and self-driving vehicles. The trucking industry is still growing and changing, and its future is incredibly bright!