How Trucks Built the American Economy

Strong Tie Insurance April 21, 2020 StrongtieInsurance

Everyone – from consumers, to stores, to manufacturers, to commercial truck insurance companies – owes truckers a great debt of gratitude. Trucks have been the primary way to move goods from one place to another since they entered the scene many years ago. 

With an increase in online shopping, distribution centers, and faster delivery promises, truck drivers play a vital role in keeping the American economy moving. From short-trip delivery drivers to the long haulers who drive across the country, we thank you for your service and for playing your role in making our economy work

A Quick History of Truck Driving

In the early 1900s, the United States was primarily made up of communities with their own economies. Small delivery trucks were able to handle the task of moving goods between short distances. By the 1920s, semi-trailers made the scene and changed things forever. Businesses were able to ship more products over greater distances in less time.

But it wasn’t until 1935 that the U.S. government implemented crucial safety regulations called the Motor Carrier Act. This is the kind of law that now requires truck drivers to carry commercial trucking insurance. When the first refrigerated truck hit the road in the 1950s, nothing was off-limits. People on the west coast could now enjoy Maine lobster while people in the north could now consume Florida oranges!

The history of trucking is a fantastic allegory of the path the United States took from being a local economy to a global economy. With advancements in the industry, we were able to move towards a more significant reach across the world. And truck drivers are just as relevant today as they were all of those years ago.

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If You Bought it, a Truck Brought It

The importance of trucking in the American Economy isn’t necessarily easy to measure. At the same time, it’s impossible to deny. 

Retail stores, gas stations, hospitals, garbage disposal, construction sites, banks, and more all rely on commercial trucks to transport and distribute cargo. Even raw materials need to be moved back and forth before products can be produced, let alone sit on shelves. The American Trucking Association suggests that trucks moved around 10.8 billion tons of freight in 2017 alone. Trucks account for approximately 70% of all goods moved around the country.

Current data suggests that truckers handle 71% of all freight in the U.S. That’s more than all the other modes of transportation combined. In 2017, the trucking industry generated over $700 billion. That’s more than the entire GDP of several nations and if the trucking industry was its own country, it would have ranked 33rd in GDP around the world!

Estimates show that most grocery stores would run out of food entirely in just three days if trucks stopped running their regular routes. That’s not to mention the shortage of other necessary raw materials and other goods that would disappear from store shelves.

It’s All About the Jobs

The trucking industry is a significant component of jobs in the United States. Of the 129 million full-time jobs in the U.S., around 7.4 million people were employed by the trucking industry. That means almost 6% of full-time work is due to truck drivers. 

Of course, that doesn’t take into account the indirect jobs created and maintained by truckers. Everyone from diesel mechanics to rest stop workers to trucking insurance companies rely on truckers to sustain their businesses.

The American Trucking Association estimated needing to hire another 900,000 drivers to meet the growing demand of the trucking industry. This number might be slightly exaggerated, but there is no question that there is a demand for new drivers every year. Currently, just over 40% of trucking jobs in the U.S. are held by minorities, and the number of women drivers is on the rise. That means the trucking industry is entirely open for everyone.

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The Life of a Trucker

While some of the aspects of working in the trucking industry are changing with the onset of new technology, larger numbers of distribution centers, and more regulations, the overall life of a truck driver isn’t easy.

Drivers can easily spend up to 11 hours each day behind the wheel of their vehicle. On top of that, they have to deal with fueling, paperwork, inspections, repairs, and more. Those coping with long-haul assignments can spend weeks away from home. Many truck drivers spend their nights sleeping in the cab of their trucks parked in truck stops or rest areas.

Truck driving is also one of the more dangerous careers out there. Truck drivers are on the road more, which means they are more likely to be involved in accidents. In fact, truckers are five times more likely to die on the job than the average worker

The risk of an accident isn’t the only thing that puts truckers at risk. Because of their long hours, truck drivers often lead lifestyles of higher risk from smoking, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits.

The Future is Bright

With an increase in the number of available jobs and the implementation of new technology, things are looking up for truck drivers. Many companies are relying on various distribution centers to help get their goods to market faster than before. That opens up more short-haul or even local delivery routes for drivers who want to maintain their social and family lives.

Advances in automotive safety tech are also making an impact on the overall safety of drivers. Newer trucks can be equipped with driver-assist tech that helps drivers keep focus and keep an eye on traditional blind spots. Modern trucks are also easier to control and drive, which opens up trucking opportunities to new groups of individuals looking to hit the road.

Your Commercial Trucking Insurance Provider is On Your Side

Every truck driver, from the long-haul heroes to the short-haul champions, is required to have trucking insurance. This insurance helps protect the drivers, their equipment, and the goods they transport. More importantly, trucking insurance companies help guide trucking companies and owner-operators through unexpected hurdles. 

The difference between having just sufficient insurance and incredible insurance could be the difference between truckers and cargo arriving safely and intact, or there being significant delays, injuries, and even death. There’s absolutely no question that truckers help build the American economy that we treasure. And Commercial trucking insurance has supported truckers from the beginning and will continue to do so into the future.