America’s Trucking History

June 5, 2020 10:23 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The American trucking industry currently supports 7.4 million jobs in Wytheville, VA and all across the country. In fact, in 29 states, “truck driver” is the dominant occupation when workers are surveyed. Today, truck drivers haul 70 percent of the 10.5 billion tons of freight delivered each year. However, this was not always the case, as the history of trucking often involved challenges along with advancement. Here is a timeline of notable developments in trucking:

  • The first truck: The birth of trucking occurred in 1896. That year, Gottlieb Daimler converted a horse-drawn trailer into a rear-mounted, four-horsepower, two-cylinder engine, which he designed from a previous passenger car engine. It was the first motorized freight carrier that resembled large carts previously pulled by draft horses and mules.
  • Birth of Mack Trucks: Four years after Daimler’s invention, Jack and Gus Mack founded Mack Trucks in Brooklyn, New York. This company became the standard bearer of the American trucking industry.
  • First trucker unions: In 1901, truckers were underpaid and underappreciated. They frequently worked 12- to 18-hour days, usually seven days a week, for $2 a day and without job security or safety measures. Companies also held them liable if merchandise was lost or damaged. In response, truckers formed the Team Drivers International Union (TDIU) to secure better wage and working conditions. A year later, the Teamsters National Union formed from members who broke away from the TDIU. However, they decided their requests would be more successful if they worked together. In 1903, they merged into the powerful International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).
  • First transcontinental delivery: In 1912, a story captivated the nation. A five-man team of Teamster drivers started in Philadelphia and delivered three tons of Parrot brand olive oil soap to the City Hall at San Francisco. Keep in mind that there was no road maintenance in 1912, and yet they arrived at City Hall in a record 91 days. It was a dangerous journey that started the era of long-haul trucking.
  • The development of the modern truck: Freight trucks were small and rickety, with cargo limitations. That changed with the invention of the semi-trailer. In 1914, Otto Neumann and August Fruehauf developed their first semi-trailer. They expanded on this invention by creating the fifth wheel in 1915. That allowed a coupling device that made it possible to connect semis to the trailer.
  • First weight limits: It became apparent that overloaded trucks are unsafe trucks. Maine was the first state to enact tractor-trailer limits by prohibiting any trucks weighing over 18,000 pounds to travel its roads. This trend expanded, and finding lines of trucks waiting to be weighed on a scale was commonplace. It was not until seven decades later that this process was made more efficient with bypass systems that eliminated the need for the scale system.

Complete Truck Service, Inc. is proud to be part of the American trucking industry by offering truck repair, 24-hour road service and towing. Please contact us if you ever require these services in the Wytheville, VA area.

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