No matter where you drive on America’s highway you see long-haul trucks transporting freight, goods, and materials from one place to another. Trucking is American commerce’s lifeblood. Without shipping services in Utah or any other of the 49 states, there would be no stocked shelves in grocery stores, clothing in your favorite boutique, and your comfortable lives would be non-existent.
How did America get so dependent on trucking? At one time it was rare to see anything traveling on the roads that carried more than a box or two. Back in the early 1900s, any trucks traveling on the roads had solid rubber tires which made shipping rough and slow. It was not cost effective to ship anything long distance by truck or motorized vehicle.
In 1920 trucks were finally equipped with air-filled tires which made the transportation much more comfortable and helped trucks go faster. There were only 10,000 trucks in the whole county around 1910, and most were used for deliveries around large metropolitan areas. In 1916 the Seattle Chamber of Commerce hired a truck and driver to travel from Seattle to New York City. The goal was to prove to manufacturers and merchants that highways and truck transport could be a significant form of commerce. It was an exciting journey – taking 31 days from start to finish.
Another great feature added to trucks in 1912 were electric running lights. These lights allowed trucks to be driven at night and makeup travel time spent sleeping. Next came the fifth wheel innovation in the 1920s which further enhanced the speed that loads could travel. The semi-trailer was invented in the 1920s, and that development made a significant impact on the way freight and cargo were transported.
In 1914 there were less than 15,000 miles of paved roads, but during the next decade, the federal government spent $75 million on new road construction. By the 1930s there were 329,000 long-haul trucks registered in the county with a top speed of 25 mph.
Next came the regulation and in 1935 the Motor Carrier Act presented the trucking industry with a set of regulations for all trucks to use when driving on the nation’s highways
During the World War I era, truck companies manufactured trucks for the war effort, and 227,000 new trucks were produced. Trucking firms like Interstate Motor Freight and Yellow Trucking were started, and hundreds of other trucking companies quickly followed. Shipping companies in Utah and Salt Lake City became a major trucking and transportation hub.
The trucking industry moved on to the 1950s, and diesel fuel was only 14.9 cents per gallon. Trucks with refrigerated trailers were hitched behind tractors and trailers used propane to keep frozen items intact.
In 1956 the Federal-Aid Highway Act was signed into law, and the interstate highway era was officially ready to go. Jump to 1981 when all states adopted maximum gross weight limits of 80,000 pounds on interstate highways which gave truckers a headache. Weights and measure truck stops were installed on highways to ensure that trucks were not overfilled to more than capacity.
Constructing the interstate highway system continued during the 1960s and developments in the trucking industry took off. Truckers quickly became a brotherhood and an interesting camaraderie developed among drivers.
Trucks were now transporting everything from gasoline to logs to beef cattle in a society rapidly becoming dependent on successful long-haul trucking.
Interstate highways increased the number of trucks on the road, and technological and cultural changes popularized trucking. By the 1970s over 18 million trucks were operating in the United States and America was even more dependent on the trucking industry.
By 1984 the trucking industry was deregulated moving the trucking industry to a more professional and progressive public-oriented industry. In 1999 the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act was signed into law, and this created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that now oversees the industry.
Jump ahead to the 21st century. Corlett Express, one of the best express trucking companies in Utah was organized in June of 2000. The company had only four employees, two tractors, and four trailers. Corlett Express has since expanded to owning terminals throughout Utah. Shipping services in Utah have now expanded to freight hauling to remote areas of Utah and northern Nevada.
Life on the road differed greatly from the 1900s to today. In 1910 truckers were instructed to get from point A to point B. There were no restrictions, no rules, and no limits. Drivers often drove for days at a time without stopping. Companies didn’t care how many hours their drivers were on the road. All that was important was the delivery. The life of a truck driver was brutal.
Today customer satisfaction and driver safety are paramount for shipping companies in Utah. Companies can use technology to increase the pace of trucking and allow drivers to operate near their homes. The days of calling home once a week on a payphone along the road Is gone, and truckers are not in danger of getting lost in nowhere with no communication. No longer do truckers need to pull over to write in a log book.
What will happen in the next few years and the next century? Will autonomous trucking be the norm? Autonomous trucks are being tested, and now the question is, what impact will autonomous trucks have on the trucking industry and the best express trucking companies in Utah?