In the trucking community, there’s a popular phrase that says, “Without truck drivers, America stops!” And it’s true. As a global economy, one that ships goods not only from state to state but also to countries all over the globe, we rely heavily on trucks, truckers, and a complex system of highways to move those goods to their final destinations. However, things weren’t always this way. To give you a glimpse into where truck driving began to where we are now, we’ve compiled a brief history of the truck driving industry.
At the turn of the twentieth century, our nation was made up of local economies that required nothing more than small delivery trucks to move goods short distances along basic roads. These trucks drove on dense tires made of solid rubber, which resulted in slow, bumpy rides, and often damaged merchandise.
It wasn’t until 1912 that delivery trucks had improved their productivity by installing headlights and better tires. Finally, in the 1920s, semi-trailers were introduced—an advancement that changed the industry forever. Semi-trailers allowed businesses to ship more goods further distances and in less time. It was then that the beginning of modern trucking was born.
Given the rapid expansion of the industry and the huge increase of semi-trailer trucks on the road in the late 1920s, the government eventually stepped in with the 1935 Motor Carrier Act, which brought important safety regulations to the industry.
In the 1950s, yet another major revolution for the trucking industry arrived: refrigerated trailers. Want to enjoy lobster from Maine in Arizona? How about biting into fresh California oranges in New York? All of this became possible with the invention of the refrigerated trailer. This advancement in the trucking industry allowed many drivers to enjoy a variety of food and beverage options while on the road.
In many ways, the history of the trucking industry is the story of America’s transition from a collection of local economies to a national economy, and finally a global economy. Without this industry and its frequent advances, many of the conveniences we take for granted each day would be impossible. It makes you understand the importance of truck drivers, and how America couldn’t run normally without them!