March 22, 2018

What Would Happen If The Trucking Industry Stopped?

The trucking industry has been around since the mid-20th century and has become an integral part of the American identity. The American economy relies on the trucking industry to transport goods, food, construction materials, and much more. These goods are generally picked up at manufacturing plants and transported overland to retail distributors. From there, they make their way into malls, shops, restaurants, and construction sites; from there, they make it into the homes and businesses of the people. Despite the importance of the transportation industry, how many people have actually wondered what would happen if the trucking industry stopped?

Trucking Industry History

Prior to the invention of automobiles and the development of the trucking industry, the majority of goods were transported via train or horse and buggy. Obviously, these methods were limited in amount and size of the goods being transported.

The American trucking industry feeds into many vital industries as their freight movement provides for the transportation, manufacturing, and warehousing industries. In the 20th century, the trucking industry has helped shape the economic and political landscape of the United States.

World War I and Road Construction

With the need for massive road construction projects that came with World War I, trucks were seen as a vital means of transporting large quantities of materials over land. Thus the trucking industry was well-rooted by the 1930s as a crucial means of transport.

The Interstate Highway System

When the funds to construct the Interstate were raised by taxpayers in 1956, a massive network system of roads connecting numerous cities was linked across the country. The establishment of the highway system also allowed for the significant growth of the trucking industry into the 1960s. By the end of the 20th century, trucking dominated the freight industry.

Trucking as a Facet of the American Dream

A further indication of the significance of the trucking industry was how the popularity of trucking as a national symbol was elevated by trucking movies and songs that became hits in the 60s and 70s. The national attention that life and love on the open road achieved were popularized by trucking ballads that formed a whole sub-category of country and western music. Songs by Waylon Speed, Red Simpson, Robert Morris, and Cliff Bruner’s ‘Truck Driving Blues’, to name a few, brought the glory of love and trucking into the homes of Americans who enjoyed the unique fusion of country and honky-tonk tunes. Movies like ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ fused the trucking lifestyle with ideas of freedom and masculinity, representing just how firmly trucking had become a symbol of the American dream.

By the end of the 20th century, the trucking industry was not just vital in terms of its effect on the political, economic, and transportation industries, but also as a powerful symbol of national pride. As trucking became as quintessentially American as cowboy boots and apple pie, it became unimaginable to picture the formation of the American landscape throughout the 20th century without the trucking industry. How would roads have been constructed? How would goods have been transported? How would cities have been connected?