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Semi-trucks keep the US economy moving and are responsible for transporting 71.8% of our nation’s freight. The trucking industry has evolved over the decades and larger shifts have influenced this evolution. In turn, truck driving has played a role in many historical events.

Here is a brief overview of trucking history:

Late 1800s and Early 1900s.  The First Semi-Trucks

In 1898, Alexander Winton built the first semi-truck. Winton was a Scottish immigrant and the owner of the Winton Motor Carriage Company in Cleveland. His company sold automobiles, which were called “horseless carriages” at the time. Customers sometimes lived far away from Cleveland, so Winton had to find a way to get their vehicles to them without causing damage or adding mileage.

In 1914, Detroit blacksmith August Charles Fruehauf took semi-trucks to the next level. He used his vehicles for hauling lumber and started the Fruehauf Trailer Company in 1918. The semi-trailer design allowed trucks to haul more types of freight, but railroads were still the dominant method of shipping at the time.

In 1933, two organizations (the American Highway Freight Association and the Federation Trucks Associations of America) combined to create the American Trucking Associations (ATA). This organization is still around today and advocates for the interests of the trucking industry.

The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 introduced the first trucking regulations. These included weight limits and caps on hours of service.

In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. This began the creation of a nationwide system of highways. As a result, semi-trucks could travel more efficiently.

With the creation of highways, there was a need for oversight in the trucking industry. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was created in 1967.

Truck driving continues to adapt to the times. New technology has made semi-trucks more comfortable and safer than ever before and there continues to be a steady demand for new truckers to enter the industry.

Become a Trucker

If you are interested in becoming a professional driver, SAN JOSE TRUCK DRIVING SCHOOL can help you get started. With our program, you can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and find a rewarding trucking job.

To learn more about our CDL training, contact us today.