Did you ever think about it? How do our everyday items get to us? Do they just “magically appear” at the door, or at the store?
Not a chance! Actually, the majority of the things we use in our daily lives have been brought to us, at some point in the delivery process, by truck. According to American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry handles over 70% of all freight in the United States. In America, we love our trucks, and we’ve built nearly 4 million miles of roads to drive them on.
A Look Back
The invention of the wheeled cart, the ancestor of all trucks, can’t be pinpointed precisely, but historians guess we are looking at the third or fourth millennia B.C.
A bit more recently, the invention of the iron horseshoe in 770 A.D. made horse-drawn wagons a boon to shipping. What was lacking in pace was made up in load capacity. For the next 1000 years, not much seemed to change except for the roads. But then came the industrial revolution. Horses originally pulled wagons by rail, but by the 1830s in the United States, the “iron horse” was supplanting all other transportation options in capacity as the steam-powered freight train cornered the market on long-distance freight service.
But the trains didn’t go everywhere, and folks needed a convenient and quick way to transport goods from the train stations to the places where they were actually purchased and used. The horse-drawn wagon was good for another 50 years, but in 1885-86, the game-changing gasoline-powered automobile entered the picture, and by the turn of the century, the first semi-trucks were already on the road.
Rules of the Road
By the 1920s, cars and trucks were growing in popularity and affordability. The Motor Carrier Act of 1935, regulating the U.S. trucking industry, was passed by Congress in 1935. The MCA provided guidelines for freight hauling rates, restrictions on the number of hours truckers could drive, and monitoring for trucking companies’ regions and the types of items shipped by truck. The Interstate Highway System was legislated during the Eisenhower administration in 1956, and the future of short- and long-distance trucking was assured. That law helped guarantee the healthy competition between road and rail that exists even today.
The Future of Pennsylvania Trucking
For Pennsylvania, freight tonnage on our highways is expected to increase substantially in years to come. According to the Transportation Performance Report for 2017 issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, freight tonnage for Pennsylvania in 2015 was 1.3 billion tons. This is expected to increase to 1.9 billion tons by the year 2040—an increase of more than 30 percent.
Playing Our Part
Hostetler Truck Bodies and Trailers is proud of the part we play in the transportation of goods and provision of services throughout our area. Many of the truck bodies that we manufacture, sell. and install are used for transporting crops from farmers’ fields, machinery from the respective equipment dealers and distributors, tools and equipment needed on-the-job by many employers in the “trades” industries, and many more applications.
So, the next time you see a truck, big or small, delivering its cargo, please take a minute to reflect on where we would be without these trucks and their drivers, working every day to help supply our needs and wants and improve our lives.