The Trucking Industry: Then and Now

Life on the road is not what it used to be. When the trucking industry first starting in 1910, truckers were instructed to do one thing: get from point A to point B. No restrictions, no rules and no limits. Sometimes this meant driving for days at a time in dangerous conditions. Companies didn’t care how many hours their drivers were on the road or how they got there, as long as the delivery was made.

In the 1930s, companies finally started realizing how unsafe their drivers were operating and started making them write down every hour they drove with a lead pencil and ruler. This process took away from hours that could have been spent covering miles.

The Interstate Highway System was constructed in the 1950s and gave large trucks the freedom to drive faster through rural areas. The new systems also meant new rules and regulations, such as the first federal maximum gross vehicle limit.

The exciting era of trucking technology began in the 1970s in the form of CB radios. CB radios allowed truckers to talk back and forth with one another and hear information about road construction and detours. Another valuable invention during this time was the tachograph, which did the work of both a speedometer and clock. Truckers were relieved as they could conveniently keep track of their hours on the road.

Competition between trucking companies was spurred by deregulation in the 1980s. The only companies that came out of the fight were those able to deliver products on time and at unbeatable prices. The era was dedicated to improving performance. On-time deliveries, quality driving and electronic driver logs were now crucial to long-term success in the trucking industry.

Customer satisfaction become the ultimate goal during the 2000s. Advanced mobile communications technology (cell phone towers) and Wi-Fi went from expensive luxuries to everyday necessities. The most dramatic improvement has been technology advancement, but there are several other areas that have undergone drastic changes. More companies are giving their drivers opportunities to operate closer to home.

Gone are the days of only calling home once a week on a payphone; getting lost in the middle of nowhere with no communication; or pulling over every hour to write in your log book. With the consistent increase in trucking job opportunities, drivers can only expect industry improvements to continue.