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Industry History

15 Jan


Trucking Through the Years

January 15, 2012 | By |

Each month we focus on the here and now and pressing topics facing the trucking industry.  But this month I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at the early years of the trucking industry.  In that spirit, here are some “fun facts” for your enjoyment this month:


1900-20:  In 1904 trucks begin being regarded differently than cars.  Trucks are primary used to assist the postal service and brewing companies.  In 1908 the first highway, located near Detroit, Michigan, is unveiled.  Kenworth manufactures its first truck in 1915 and around this same time new trucks begin featuring self starters, windshield wipers and mirrors.  Buyers now have options such as air brakes and enclosed cabs. 


1920’s: Trucking begins to gain importance in response to a railroad strike.  Drivers began to operate both locally and on a long haul basis and trucks are enhanced with features such as engines, tires and radios.  The federal government also decides that the truck and railroad industries should cooperate and not compete against each other.


1930’s: Diesel models become available and the new Sterling engine has 185 horsepower, the largest ever.  By 1937 there are an estimated 39,000 for hire carriers (approximately 51% of which are livestock haulers) and the ICC begins to issue regulations regarding driver qualifications, driving rules and safety equipment.  The American Trucking Association is formed in 1933 and Peterbilt builds its first truck in 1939. 


1940’s:  The national speed limit is set at 40 miles per hour before being reduced back down to 35 mph.  The ATA launches the first national safety program.


1950’s: The trucking industry begins to see new taxation.  Both New York and Ohio establish taxes on truckers.  The Ohio and Indiana Turnpikes are completed in 1956, while the Eisenhower administration drafts plans to build 41,000 miles of interstate highways across the country.  In the meantime the ICC proposes out-of-service regulations. 

Since the 1950’s we have continued to see immense technological advancements, changes in government (both federal and state) regulation (and even some deregulation), and the impact of fuel prices, a fuel crisis and economic up and downturns on the industry.  As we look ahead to the New Year it is likely that the only thing certain is that the industry we love will face further change.  And when facing this change, please be confident that all of us at the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency will be available to assist you in whatever manner we can.  This is part of our commitment to be accessible, helpful and result oriented.