Talk with the Doc: A brief history of the USA’s trucking industry

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist

Following is a brief summary of some interesting facts about our great trucking industry in the USA. As many of you are aware, when we are driving, we often see many commercial trucks of various sizes, including the large “18 wheelers” to smaller trucks doing deliveries and pick-ups often all day long and into the night. It is very important to realize the great service that they provide to all of us each and every day. In the United States, there are more than 800,000 truck drivers serving us on a daily basis. They vary from being associated with small trucking companies, to being their own personal owner operator, or to being employed by large country-wide trucking companies. Of course, all of these truckers contribute to the health and strength of our great nation’s economy.

Most people do not realize that 70% of all the freight moved daily in the United States is done by trucks. This includes food, medicine, raw materials, manufactured goods, waste removal, and much more. If the trucking industry were to stop, our nation would certainly stop as well. What many of us may not realize either, is that if our USA trucking industry were to stop, many essential and critical industries will start to be affected within 24 hours. Be aware that in the United States alone, nearly $700 billion of goods are shipped by the trucking industry every year. Further, the trucking industry is also very important to our logging industry here in the Upper Peninsula and throughout Michigan. Without question, the trucking industry is absolutely vital to overall health of our USA economy.

If the USA trucking industry were to shut down for any reason, within 24 hours, delivery of critical and essential medical supplies would cease, and hospitals will begin to run out of supplies. Our health care availability would then be tragically affected. Gas stations will begin to run out of fuel leading to long lines at the pump. Mail and package deliveries would cease, and this all could happen within just 24 hours, if there was no trucking industry available.

Nearly every sector of the economy relies on trucks to transport their goods. One example of this would be the shipping of raw materials such as lumber and stone from forests and quarries to deliver them to various manufacturing sites. Once these manufacturers turn out their finished product, they are then often transported via truck to their final destination or to a distribution center. Obviously the trucking industry is also a very important part of the automobile industry. The trucking industry delivers numerous raw materials to the automobile manufacturing companies. They then deliver their finished products to our local automobile and truck dealerships throughout our country. Of course, our automobiles and trucks represent an essential part of so many of our USA businesses and they also serve our vital personal transportation needs as well.

The bottom line is that the trucking industry is a vital part of our United States economy and so many of these dedicated trucking industry personnel go to great lengths to serve so many of us so very well.


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