Category: shippers

What is the economic impact of the trucking industry in the United States?

The United States has one of the strongest economies in the world and much of its rigor is powered by its incredible logistical network that allows goods to be transported across the nation rapidly and efficiently. After the creation of the interstate system in the 40s and 50s, the trucking industry took hold on the nation by creating thousands of jobs and providing the means for reliable transportation. The United States economy depends on the stability and dependability of its transportation system.

Money Talk

Money is on everyone’s mind. It is even more salient to economists who have analyzed the United States economy. With a quick look at the statistics, one can see that trucking is big. It takes up over 70% of the transportation industry, and recently, yearly revenue has exceeded $800 billion through completed deliveries. That’s over 11.5 billion tons of cargo each year, according to TheTrucker.com. Beyond the direct economic impact lies the impact of stores and distributors selling the goods that were transported. CFS reports that as of 2017, 71.6% of goods in the United States were transported on a truck before reaching their points of civilian distribution.

Impactful Industry

The trucking industry touches many different aspects of American life, from groceries, pharmaceuticals, household goods, to cars and building materials. America truly runs on trucking. The economic impacts of trucking are also able to be quantified in terms of employment. Trucking is a great career for many people, and there are drivers on the road today from nearly every walk of life. Trucking used to be a career predominately reserved for men, but now anybody can have a successful career driving!

In fact, there are around 3.36 million drivers on the road in the United States today, of this number, about 6% are female drivers, but this number is increasing yearly! Additionally, nearly 10% of drivers are veterans who have found fulfilling careers after serving the United States in the Military. Professional drivers make on average over $60,000 per year, which is nearly twice the national average income according to Census estimates. This access to a lucrative career is great for the economy because it means drivers are self-sufficient and able to purchase and invest in what they need.

Run the World

The transportation industry is one of the driving forces of the global economy. The presence of an interconnected network of supply, demand, and transit allows a free flow of capital that can instill economic growth. Trucking is a major part of this network, especially in larger nations like the United States. As we continue in time, it is expected there will be more need for drivers as the trucking industry is expected to grow. The zenith of the economic impact of trucking is yet to be seen.

Final Thoughts

Drivers are the lifeblood of the United States and its economic power. The incredible logistical system that allows goods to be transported from pickup to drop-off is part of what makes the United States such a wonderful place to live, and drivers are the most important piece of the economic puzzle. The economy is still recovering after the pandemic, but it is already looking like it will reach even greater heights than before and drivers will be crucial in building it up!

History of the Trucking Industry Within the United States

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

The Beginning

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! 

Guide To Truck Driver Retention

Statistics show that most truck drivers leave their jobs because they feel underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated. When the amount of work exceeds the number of employees, more responsibility is expected from the remaining team members. With these added pressures, it can cause the drivers to start looking for other opportunities with new employers.

Driver retention is a top issue facing the commercial trucking industry. Here are a few suggestions for how your company can increase job satisfaction and ultimately employee retention

  • Set Realistic Job Expectations
  • Commit to Providing Employer Support
  • Offer Competitive Pay
  • Support Driver Health
  • Encourage Input and Feedback

From the beginning, a driver should understand what is expected of them for the job. The training and support that is provided can help employees clearly understand the expectations and help guide them to effectively complete their tasks. Detailed training will help new employees understand the basics of the job, understand the workplace culture, and ensure that they have the necessary tools and knowledge to do the work. Clear training opportunities make for a better driver and allow for a driver to improve their skills!

Let’s talk about money. Compensation is one of the top reasons why an employee will seek out other opportunities. It is important to evaluate and adjust salaries, and if your company can, offer things such as bonuses, additional healthcare benefits and retirement plans. By offering health benefits, stress-management programs, retirement planning or offering gym membership, employees feel better supported when their employer prioritizes their overall well-being. Being competitive in the industry will help entice new applicants and keep your employees for the long run. 

An open door policy is beneficial for any industry. Employees should feel like they can come to their employers with ideas, questions, and concerns at any time. As an employer, providing timely, constructive and positive communication will create an atmosphere of connection and job satisfaction.  Good workplace communication can help employees understand how to reach their professional goals and help them visualize their future with the company.

These are just a few suggestions for how your company can increase job satisfaction and employee retention. Be sure to re-evaluate your efforts regularly by staying current on market standards for salary and benefits and the best practices for developing strong manager-employee relations. High performing truck drivers are an incredibly valuable asset to any business.

It is inevitable that there will be some employees that will leave your company sooner than you may like, but by applying some of these suggestions you can at least hope that they will leave knowing that they were valued and supported. 

The History of the Semi-Truck

Have you ever wondered who invented the semi-truck, when it was invented, and why? At the beginning of the 20th century transportation was going through a period of change, including the affordability of producing cars and their availability. Due to automobiles cornering the market, other automotive-based inventions were introduced, such as the semi-truck. The different types of semi-trucks you see traveling the highways nowadays is from the development of a semi-trailer created to transport one single car. Two inventors are credited for the creation of the semi-truck, with each design serving a similar purpose. 

Alexander Winton

Winton invented the semi-truck in 1898 and sold his first manufactured semi-truck in 1899. He went into the car making business in 1896, and in 1898, his company, The Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland sold their first 22 manufactured cars causing a need for the cars to be delivered to their buyers, especially since they lived all over the country. This presented a major dilemma. If the cars were driven to their new owners, miles plus wear and tear would occur on the car, as well as an expensive delivery. This dilemma led Winton to invent the idea of the semi-truck to handle delivery of the cars. Winton presented this problem with a new idea that he described as an automobile hauler that could transport the vehicle on a trailer. 

August Charles Fruehauf

Fruehauf was a blacksmith from Detroit who constructed a carriage for an individual who needed to transport his boat in 1914. Fruehauf officially called this carriage a “semi-trailer”. This carriage semi-trailer was attached to a Ford and became a hit. Fruehauf then went on to develop the carriage semi-trailer for other uses, such as transporting lumber. In 1918 he merged his businesses into the Fruehauf Trailer Company, which continues to be a leading maker of semi-trailers today. 

Semi-Tractor Trailer Invention Description

The first semi-trailer used a revised short-wheeled touring automobile (the tractor) with a cart (the trailer) attached to the rear of it. The platform sat on the top of the engine part and rested on a set of wheels on the other end. Although most vehicles have engines on the front, this one had an engine at the back. 

The platform was able to carry only one vehicle. Prior to the cart being set onto the pulling car, the vehicle that was being transported was wheeled onto the ramp of the cart and secured to the platform. The edge of the platform that was sitting on the ground was then raised and secured to the top of the trunk of the pulling vehicle. Today a flatbed trailer, known as a removable gooseneck, uses the same idea of being driven onto the tractor and then fastened. 

Development of the Semi-Truck

Although Winton is one of two individuals who is credited for the creation of the semi-truck, he did not pursue the design of his first semi-truck but instead concentrated on improving engine designs. However, other industries had a demand for semi-trailers and continued to expand on the semi-trailer concept. 

John C. Endebrock had experience in constructing horse carriages and used what he knew to create the “trailmobile”. This was an iron chassis that was set on wheels and springs that could be trailed behind a Ford Model T. This 1918 design allowed a single operator to easily attach the trailer to a car, whereas earlier trailers required three men to hook up the chassis to a car. 

In the 1920’s, George Cassens took the business of hauling vehicles to the next level. Cassens was a car salesman who depended on car haulers to deliver the cars he sold. In the early 1930’s, he tried to ship new cars straight to the buyers but soon realized that the cost to ship them was excessive for the car manufacturers. Cassens created a $1,850, four-car auto trailer that was pulled by a two-ton Dodge truck to help haul the cars from the manufacturing site to the car owners. 

Over the next 100 years, the two-wheel semi-truck that Winton invented has developed into an eighteen wheeled semi-truck with three axles. Without the invention of the semi-truck, the transportation of goods would be exhausting and difficult. However, thanks to those who invented and developed it, semi-trucks today haul hundreds of thousands of goods each year by way of 3 million truck drivers. 

Three Kinds of Podcasts that all Truckers Should Get Into

Trucking, as most know, requires long days of tedious driving while needing to maintain alertness. At the same time, it’s not hard to imagine zoning out or worse, falling asleep at the wheel. Finding something to help yourself stay engaged and make the time go by is important. Listening to the radio only goes so far before you’re tired of hearing the same songs.

That’s why checking out podcasts can be a fantastic way to cruise to your destination. If you are seriously into a show, you could go through an hour episode after hour episode in no time. Some podcasts even range up to a few hours! 

But what is good to listen to? Let’s discuss. 

Sports 

Why listen to a radio station where your favorite hosts only come on for a couple of hours a day when you can listen to them all day long? Sports have now made their way to podcasts and in a variety of niches. Whether you are following a fan favorite team or want to talk about the sports headlines, there is a show for it!

Here are some of the top sports shows!

        1. The Bill Simmons Podcast
        2. Pardon My Take
        3. The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz
        4. Ryan Russilo Podcast

Current Events

Staying on top of current events is tough as a truck driver because you can’t look at your phone or read a newspaper while driving. One of the best ways you can do this is through podcasts. Whether you want to get focused on politics or hear about the events around the world, there are many avenues. There are podcasts like TV stations that lean left, right, and some right down the middle! 

Here are some of the top current events podcasts!

        1. Planet Money – NPR
        2. The Daily – NYT
        3. Up First – NPR
        4. Apple News Today

True Crime

True crime has taken over with so many listeners from diverse backgrounds. With stories being dissected into roughly hour-long episodes, most of these podcasts play it out like a story. This can be great for long drives because you are always wanting to know what happens next. There are many current true crime stories that are constantly being published as well. 

Here are some of the top true crime shows!

        1. Serial
        2. My Favorite Murder
        3. Crime Junkie 
        4. In The Dark

Download First!

While we have the luxury of using our phones and streaming podcasts from everywhere, make sure to download them in case of areas with poor cell reception. Whether you use Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or YouTube double-check the podcast won’t buffer while driving. 

While these three genres of podcasts are among the most popular, there are so many more to explore and within these genres are subgenres to find that absolute perfect match. Explore charts from Apple Podcasts and Spotify to try a few out and see what others are listening to. 

 

Top Truck Friendly National Attractions

Who said that you have to pull over on the side of the road each trip? Why not search along your route for some of the best truck-friendly national attractions to make the drive more interesting? Taking a break to give yourself some stimulus and take your eyes off the road for a little while is always a great idea. 

If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry because we’ve compiled a list of some of the best attractions to check out on your route. 

Carhenge Nebraska

Sounds familiar? We understand that you are likely not bringing an 18-wheeler right up to England’s Stonehenge, but interestingly enough there is a substitute. In Nebraska you can drive your truck to the Carhenge in Alliance that is modeled after Stonehenge. These vintage cars are a work of art and have been painted gray to resemble the stones. 

Keep in mind that the lot for this attraction can only really accommodate two at a time, but nothing is stopping you from pulling over on the side of the road near it. 

Hole N’ The Rock

Moab, Utah is  genuinely a gorgeous part of the country to drive through. With red canyons and mountains it is a picturesque postcard. There is also a cool attraction here for truck drivers. It’s called Hole N’ The Rock and it used to be a house that was carved into the rock. 

Now it serves as a museum and offers quick tours for those who want to do something stimulating. There’s also a zoo and trading post for more fun in the area. There is parking for trucks, so no need to worry about this. 

Garden of 1000 Buddhas

One of the most jaw-dropping sights you may ever see is the Garden of 1000 Buddhas that sits in Montana. In Arlee, Montana there is a garden full of hand sculpted buddhas statues sat in a serene countryside town. If you want to tour this place you will most likely want to make an appointment, as the only non-appointment options are Saturdays at 1 PM. Parking is free and there is plenty of space. 

Unique Sights

These are just a few of some pretty amazing and unique sights! Things like the world’s largest ball of twine, the world’s largest rocking chair, and other incredible sights are worth the stop. Stopping at sights like this on the way makes the long days behind the wheel manageable. 

You also get to stimulate your brain,  learn something new, and see something unique! Be sure at each of these locations that the pandemic has not affected the hours or parking! That way you don’t drive out of your way for nothing! 

How To Build a Successful Trucking Career for Military Veterans

Trucking, America’s second greatest career, can be just right for Veterans of America’s greatest career, the Military. Firstly, thank you for your service Veterans! Life after coming home from the military can be really challenging as the civilian world works on an entirely different time frame with  entirely different stakes. There is an adjustment period you will face, or have faced, when coming back to civilian life and this has the potential to cause a lot of stress for you and your family. With that, we wish you the best of luck and strongly encourage taking care of yourself and seeking help where it is needed!

America’s Greatest Drivers

 

As you face the world newly relieved from your service, you will likely start to realize that working a civilian job feels different, or even impossible, after being in the armed forces. That’s perfectly reasonable and sometimes you just need an adjustment. Starting a career in driving may be the adjustment needed as it provides you the opportunity to travel, clear your mind, and stay busy! While it seems that your retirement from the military would be one with no more work, it turns out retirement can be boring and finding a productive way to spend your time often helps to keep you feeling in tip top shape!

Driving can be a great career choice, but you do need to be aware of what you’re signing up for as you begin preparing for a new working environment. If traveling long distances on open roads, or local highways, delivering goods to all sorts of people seems like an awesome job description, we encourage you to check out driving. However, if you are looking for something that allows you more family time, long-haul driving may not be the choice for you. Regional driving jobs often have regular hours where you can return home each evening though, so driving may not be entirely out of the picture! 

Service in a Different Realm

 

Driving and delivering goods is likely different compared to what you were doing in the military, but it can be fulfilling all the same. While your service is done defending America from threats, driving can help you serve the country in a different way. The transportation industry is one of America’s largest as production and selling of goods is only as marketable as distribution allows. So, how do you get into the industry?

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to get started driving as there is a major driver deficit facing the country. Many driving companies are offering free CDL classes if you will work for them for a set amount of time. You can find these positions with a quick job search online, but make sure to use discretion to find reliable agencies. Check their reviews and the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are a good fit for you. In addition to training, many driving positions are offering a great sign-on bonus for the reasons previously stated. As soon as you go through a CDL course and understand the rules of the road, you will be ready to launch into driving!

Building Up

 

Entering the trucking industry is quite easy these days, and trucking agencies love Veterans because they appreciate your service and understand how difficult it can be to start your career outside of the military! Many agencies offer special Veteran programs, so keep a lookout for those as you research trucking as a career path! We wish you the best of luck in getting started with your career and civilian life. Thank you so very much for your service!

Safety Behind the Wheel

When you sign up for a career in trucking, most of your journeys will be behind the wheel. For most drivers this is the best place in the world to be, but as you continue in your career, you will learn the dangers of living behind the wheel. From natural hazards like snow, ice, wildlife, and wind, to dangerous drivers, poorly marked signage, and fatigue, there are many obstacles a driver may face on his journey from pickup to delivery. It is up to the driver to understand how to face them.

Highways and Byways

America’s road system is incredibly vast. There are 4.18 million miles of roads (artba.org/) and over 164,000 miles of those 4.18 million are highways (dot.gov). This is a massive expanse and there are drivers on all parts of these highways all the time because transport is a necessarily huge industry. As a long-haul driver, you will likely encounter many of these miles. There are many factors to keep track of to ensure you are staying safe that local drivers are usually less concerned with including, driver fatigue, loss of cell service in case of emergency, and truck theft hotspots. 

As a local driver who stays in a regional area, you will most likely avoid predatory truck thieves, but you will become well acquainted with driving in crowded areas. Many regional drivers spend much of their time traveling on roads within towns and cities, and these tend to get busy especially around mealtimes. In addition to this, regional drivers are more subject to needing to watch out for events, detours, and pedestrians, as these are all more probable obstacles on main streets than the interstate. 

The Path You Choose

Whether you choose the local or long-haul route, driving can be a fulfilling career with the benefit of getting to know the nation or your local area better. However, safety behind the wheel is the most important thing to consider as you embark on your next journey. Here is a quick pneumonic tool to help you remember important safety tips and tricks for all modes of driving: SAFE, Start your journey with a truck inspection, Ask questions when you are unsure, Follow all speed and safety regulations, Expect that something may go wrong and have a plan to adapt. 

While remaining vigilant and following safety regulations is hopefully intuitive, the other concepts may be new to you. Starting your trip off on the right foot is quite simple, making sure you got enough sleep and have the right supplies in your truck can be a great first step. Before you embark on your next journey, you should check up on your truck by performing a quick inspection on the tires, brakes, fluid levels, lights, and doors/locks, which can save your truck and even your life (or someone else’s).

Now for asking questions and expecting something to go wrong, these two go hand in hand. If you are ever unsure about something regarding your route or your truck, asking questions about it can always be a great place to start. As you are creating a game plan for if something goes wrong with your truck or you face a road hazard, ask questions to your company or more experienced drivers who will gladly give you safety tips!

Final Thoughts

As you go about getting ready for your next journey, reflect on your current safety practices to see what’s good and functional and try to remediate what may be unsafe. Having a safe drive will expedite your trip, ensure you are less stressed, and keep the American transport and highway system running smoothly. Thank you for your service!

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Winter seems to come too quickly. It’s a beautiful season filled with opportunities to see the family, eat great food, and celebrate the holiday season, but winter is also one of the most dangerous seasons as there are all the usual hazards coupled with ice and snow. As the days continue to get colder, it is crucial that you are prepared for the challenges of winter, in both your home and work life as driving in near-freezing temperatures and potentially inclement weather can be hazardous.

Driving in Severe Weather

Considering the problems that can occur while driving is the first step to building safe winter driving habits. The first thing to take into account when you are planning on taking your next route is to make sure you are familiar with the weather in all locations you will be driving through. Some places will be warmer or colder than others, and it is crucial that you know which locations will have hazardous conditions such as snowstorms, icy roads, or freezing rain. Being familiar with the challenges you will face on the journey and continuing to check the news (or a dependable weather app) will help you be prepared. 

The most important thing to know when driving in potentially icy locations is that going slowly can save lives. Speed is very highly valued in the trucking industry, and it can be very hard to choose to slow down especially when most drivers are in a time crunch. However, in hazardous conditions, the most responsible thing to do is slow down to a comfortable and safe speed, being sure to follow any emergency directives from road signs even if this results in a delayed arrival. 

In addition to this primary guideline, you should also complete pre-travel checks of your truck to ensure it is well-equipped and functioning correctly for the trip. Other important tips for safe driving in any season, but especially the winter, include following traffic at a safe distance, staying to the right, checking your brakes often and keeping them clear of winter slush overnight, avoiding distractions, and making sure your headlights are clear. While you are driving, do your best to avoid panicking, even when you face scary situations. Staying calm and using common sense will help you through even the worst problems. You can always pull off the road and call for assistance if you believe the conditions are too unsafe to continue.

Stay Safe, Stay Warm

Icy conditions wreak havoc on the plans of drivers (both commercial and civilian) all through the winter season. While there are hazards on the road all year round, from animals and natural dangers, winter takes the cake as the most dangerous season of the year because it combines all the risks with ice and snow. However, many incidents are easily avoided by using common sense and making sure to follow the guidelines of going slowly when necessary and taking steps to ensure you are staying alert, aware, and prepared for any challenge winter throws at you. 

Supply chain crunch. Why are ports overwhelmed?

Ports are overwhelmed across the nation and entire international sphere. This is not an entirely new problem, but it has been exacerbated as time progressed. There are many factors that have contributed to the current supply chain crisis and these have built up over the past 40 years. In the media, there is an ample amount of news about broken infrastructure, inefficient shipping situations, and various crises around the world involving transportation like the Suez Canal incident earlier this year. The entire canal was blocked by a grounded container ship having long lasting consequences on the transportation network.   

Port Problems

Transportation faces challenges in all sectors, ground, sea, and sky.The most notable challenge facing transportation right now is highly congested ports. There are an incredible number of ports across the globe, but only a handful are high volume ports.These are backing up more and more. This has led to many shipping companies calling smaller ports for assistance and, while they are glad to see the business, they are also unable to accommodate most shipments as there is a chronic shortage of chassis facing the port shipping industry. Chassis are load-bearing trailer frames designed to attach to a truck and carry shipping containers. 

Many ports do not own their own chassis and rely on the receiving agency to supply their own, which poses an issue since the port cannot accept containers with no way to be transported once they are on land. Even ports that have huge yards filled with chassis are unable to use them most of the time because large companies tend to hold onto them even when not in use. In addition to this, there is a shortage of drivers available to transport the shipping containers even if there are enough chassis present.

Supply Chain Difficulty

The greatest difficulty facing ports is not one related to the ships carrying goods across the ocean, but rather the reception of the goods on land. The larger ports are experiencing a piling up of shipping containers and many have plans for expansion, but expanding can only do so much for the ports in question as space is limited. The problem can only be solved by an increase in ground transport from the ports. This ground transport can be in the form of trains and trucks. Trains are seeing a rise in popularity, but an increase of chassis and drivers willing to take on transport jobs from the ports are likely the only ways for ports to see a decrease in congestion.

A lack of drivers is something facing not just ports, but the entire domestic transport system. Presently the driver shortage is due to many factors including, but not limited to, drivers retiring, COVID-19, low pay, and difficult working conditions. Some of these factors can be remediated by boosting the popularity of driving and showing future drivers that it can be a great career option. In addition to this, increasing driver pay and ensuring that working conditions are fair and safe will ensure that more drivers are willing and able to participate in transporting goods across America. 

What About the Future?

The supply chain crisis poses a real and present danger to the infrastructure of many global economies and businesses as they rely on timely and efficient deliveries. There are steps that can and should be taken in order to fix this issue. Expanding ports, increasing driver employment, and sharing chassis more effectively could help to slowly heal the infrastructure. In effect, the transportation process would be expedited and the movement of goods would continue to flow unhindered.