There have been many changes in the way we live and the tools we use on a daily basis to help make life easier. These changes have been occurring at a very fast pace in recent years.
There was a day, not really that many years ago, when anything you purchased was brought by a wagon pulled with horses. Before 1900, most freight transported over land was carried by trains delivering the freight to urban centers for distribution by horse-drawn transport. The lack of paved roads and small load capacities limited trucks to mostly short-haul urban routes.
Starting in 1910, innovation gave rise to the modern trucking industry. With the advent of the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine, improvements in transmissions, the move away from chain drives to gear drives, and the development of the tractor/semi-trailer combination, shipping by truck began to gain in popularity.
By 1914 there were almost 100,000 trucks on America's roads. However, solid tires, poor rural roads, and a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour continued to limit the use of these trucks to mainly urban areas. The years of World War I (1914–1918) spurred rising truck use and development, as the increased congestion of railroads during the busy war years exposed the need for alternative modes of transporting cargo. It was during these years when an innovative Roy Chapin began to experiment with the first pneumatic (inflated) tires capable of supporting heavier loads, which enabled trucks to drive at higher speeds.
In 1941, someone suggested we could build a highway from one side of the country to the other. Several folks jumped on that idea calling it innovative and nothing less than genius because it would make transporting products across country faster and make trucking more productive. Now we have an extensive network of freeways linking major cities across the continent. As the United States has advanced and population has increased, the need for better, more powerful methods of transportation has evolved. Today, trucks fulfill many job descriptions.
What does all this have to do with trucking today? Think about this for a moment: The oldest known vehicle wheel comes from Russia and dates from about 3000 B.C. It was not until World War I, however, that the pneumatic tire was invented. Since that time, the demand for more, better, faster transportation of goods has increased exponentially.
As the trucking industry began to grow and the highway system expanded throughout the nation, truck stops began springing up to provide fuel and services to truckers. Most of the truck stops put up bulletin boards for shippers to post loads on paper notes and carriers to post their trucks. Today we find and communicate about loads on the Internet or a smart phone.
We are very much creatures of habit and go through our lives resisting change because it is uncomfortable, distracting, confusing and we feel like we are losing control. New technology has forced us – kicking and screaming – to accept change on a pretty regular basis and normally we find out later that we are much better off because of that technology. As I have illustrated above the positive changes have been nothing less than amazing.
There are numerous regulations and tools being changed, improved, or invented for introduction into the market this year. We must be active participants in the decision-making process to ensure our voices are heard. The future of trucking will be bright if we are willing to embrace the new, innovative tools being developed and put them to work for us.