The Impact of the Trucking Industry

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The Impact of the Trucking Industry

Think of every time you went to the store to purchase something, or ordered something online from an e-commerce store, or even ate at a restaurant. What do all these things have in common? In each case, you were able to get what you want because of service provided by the trucking industry. The trucking industry is the backbone of the American logistics system and without it, society would look very different. In fact, most of the freight delivered in the US is done by trucks. There is no industry or service sector that can operate without the help of these beasts on wheels. In short, if all trucks were to stop running at this moment the nation would also come to a grinding halt.

The Trucking Industry, by the Numbers

Each year, close to $700 billion worth of goods are getting transported on the roads with the help of trucks. This translates to nearly 10 billion tons of freight that get hauled from one point to the next. Percentage-wise, this accounts for over 70% of all freight that gets moved in the country. Industries that rely on the trucking industry are as diverse as it gets. From retail and medical to military and the US postal services, rely on trucks to get the job done.  Even if trucking services were to stop for just three to four days the following would happen:

  • Fuel would run out in gas stations, mass-scale food shortages which in turn would trigger food hoarding
  •  Essential supplies would disappear
  •  Garbage would pile up in streets and neighborhoods and release toxins
  •  Emergency services such as police, firefighter, etc. would not function
  • Water shortage in most areas

In the US, nearly 800K people work as truck drivers. Their yearly income is approximately $30 billion. Trucking companies come in all shapes and sizes. These include small, independent contractors, to large companies with fleets of trucks operating around the clock.

Different Types of Trucking

Even though the trucking world is seen as one type of industry, the truth is there are different types of trucks, designed to do multiple tasks. The trucks themselves will be designed and operated with these parameters in mind. The following is a brief overview of the most common trucking jobs.

Dry van: These trucks will usually be 50’ in length and carry nonperishable, non-fragile and non-toxic items. Hence, drivers will not usually require a lot of experience to drive them. In fact, it is seen as a stepping stone for more serious trucking jobs.

Bull hauler: As the name suggests, bull haulers deal with hauling livestock, mostly cattle. Training requires learning special rules regarding animal transportation.

Container hauler: Driving large containers to and from ports and rail freight yards is what this job is all about.

Auto hauler: You see them on the highways all the time, large 18 wheelers carrying several cars at once. These trucks are auto haulers and can be some of the best paying jobs in the trucking industry.

Hazardous materials: trucks that carry chemicals, petroleum products and any industrial solvents are categorized as hazardous materials trucks. Qualifying to drive includes special training. Like auto haulers, hazardous driving is a high-paying job.

Pick-up/delivery trucks: These types of trucks are generally smaller than the rest of the trucking family but complete a very necessary need known as last-mile delivery. The jobs in this sector are typically 9-5 jobs and require drivers to deal with customers on a daily basis.

LTL: A relatively new entrant into the trucking industry which has quickly grown in popularity is “less than truckload” or LTL freight. LTL usually involves large 18 wheeler trucks, carrying cargo for multiple customers, by dividing up the cargo hold. This way, customers can share a large truck and not have to pay for the entire truck and trip.

Trucking Industry & Requirements

After trucks, the next most important asset a trucking company needs is qualified drivers. The industry as a whole has been experiencing a shortage of experienced and qualified truck drivers. In order to get a job in the trucking industry, you must have the following qualifications at a bare minimum.

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school or equivalent diploma
  • Clean work and driving history
  • Pass a physical exam, which may include drug tests
  • Pass the CDL exam and obtain the license

The Future of the Trucking Industry

The importance of a healthy and vibrant trucking industry is obvious for anyone who understands the importance of logistics. The main change predicted to happen in the industry in the foreseeable future, will be in the last-mile delivery of the business. Already, some businesses are using smartphone apps to hire drivers and deliver small packages.