When an 18 wheeler passes you on the highway, you may not stop to think that this modern ways of delivering goods and materials is relatively new in the transportation industry. Until the 1930s most goods and materials were delivered using trains or horse drawn vehicles. It took the gasoline powered engine and moving from chain drive vehicles to those driven by gears to lead to the development of the trucking industry as known today.
During World War 1, trucks were used in military operations and Roy Chapin began experimenting with long-distant trucking using vehicles with pneumatic tires. White and Mack were two of the manufacturers that emerged in the era. White had begun as a business manufacturing sewing machines.
Diesel engines and better roads helped to spread the industry in the 1920s but it took until 1933 for all states to enact weight regulations. The Motor Carrier Act authorized the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate the industry in 1935.
Today, there are more than 26 million trucks on the roads of America, responsible for carrying 70% of the freight in the country. Truckers provide important public services and are responsible for transporting virtually everything in the American home, including the construction materials that build the home itself.
A trucker must carry a commercial driver's license (CDL) issued by his state of residence. In order to qualify for the CDL truckers must pass both written and driving tests. In addition, there are weight limits and endorsements that the driver must meet.
If the vehicle or vehicle combination is over 26,000 pounds, the driver must carry a Class A CDL. In addition, the driver will need endorsements for trailers, air brakes and hazardous materials. A tanker endorsement is required if the driver will be transporting liquids. If the trucker carries passengers, such as in a school bus, he or she will need a passenger endorsement.
Truckers must be in generally good health. In addition to the CDL, the trucker must carry a DOT Physical card. This card must be signed by a licensed physician stating the trucker is sufficiently healthy to operate the vehicle without problems. Unregulated hypertension, vision or hearing problems as well as a lack of the physical stamina to perform the job can disqualify the individual from being a trucker.
Today, many individuals wanting to become a trucker seek training to qualify for the CDL. Many community colleges and private truck driving schools offer courses that lead to the CDL. These courses include time in the classroom as well as behind the wheel. Individuals may qualify for financial aid to help cover the cost of the courses. Interested individuals should speak to the financial aid office at the school they are considering.
American truckers provide a vital service to fellow citizens. At some point anything a person buys was transported on a truck. From small delivery vans to the triple trailer rig, the person responsible for transportation was a trucker. With the right training, license and experience, one can become a part of this important industry.