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A By-the-Numbers Look at the History of the Trucking Industry

Whether it's the increasing weight of the trucks or the increase of trucks on the road, you can't discuss the rich history of the trucking industry without mentioning numbers. Here is a look at a few of those numbers, with information compiled in an editorial published by Fueloyal.

  • 100,000: There were roughly 100,000 trucks on U.S. roadways in 1914. These trucks were made of iron and featured solid rubber wheels. Seen mostly in urban areas, they reached a maximum speed of 15 mph.
  • 18,000: In order to protect roads, four states limited the weight of commercial trucks to 18,000 pounds.
  • More than a million: The number of commercial trucks on roadways in the two years following World War II was more than a million, as roads improved and the diesel engine was introduced.
  • 73,208: In 1956, the Federal-Aid Highway Act included provisions which created the highway system, and allowed trucks to drive at increased speeds and to weigh up to 73,208 pounds.
  • 18 million: The 1970s saw about 18 million commercial trucks traveling the roadways of the U.S.
  • 15 percent: In the 1980s, truckers were free to price up or down within 15 percent of current levels, thanks to provisions of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980.
  • $1.2 trillion: The North American Free Trade Agreement of the 1990s increased U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico from $337 billiion to $1.2 trillion within twenty years, greatly impacting the trucking industry.
  • Nearly 70 percent: Heading into the 2000s, nearly 70 percent of U.S. trucking companies were on the verge of bankruptcy, due to aging vehicles and a number of other challenges.


According to a recent report from Forbes, here are some numbers to reflect the current state of the industry:

  • 14.9 percent: Privately held general freight trucking companies grew their sales an average of 14.9 percent in 2017.
  • 52: The current average age for truckers in the U.S. is 52, compared to 42 for the workforce as a whole.
  • 20: The average general freight company has just 20 employees, a factor which likely places them in the position to adjust to market needs.

Check back for more information and insight into the trucking industry.