A History of Trucking

Think you know everything about the trucking industry? Below are some interesting facts you may not have known; from the history of the first tractor trailer to interesting tidbits that will spark any truck lover’s interest.

The First Tractor Trailer

The first tractor trailer was invented in 1914 by Charles Fruehauf, who was a German-American blacksmith. Fruehauf built the truck in Detroit at a merchant’s request to transport his boat to the Ford Motor Company. Fruehauf was then asked to build a similar tractor trailer to haul lumber, leading him to establish the Fruehauf Trailer Company in 1918.

The Fifth Wheel

John Endebrock was a sales representative at the Sechler Company, a carriage manufacturer. Endebrock created a trailer that could be pulled by a Ford Model T. He then created the fifth wheel, a mechanism that couples the tractor to the trailer. The companies name was then changed to The Trail mobile Company in 1915.

The Motor Carrier Act

Passed by Congress in 1935, allowing the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to “grant operating permits, approve trucking routes,” and “set uniform tariff rates for hauling freight,” leading to little competition among trucking companies. The ICC was abolished in 1995.

The Department of Transportation

Created in 1967, the DOT sets requirements on braking standards, maximum work hours, and “overall safety fitness of interstate carriers.”

Maximum Weight Requirements
In 1982, the Surface Transportation Act was created, stating that interstate highway trucks cannot have a total weight of more than 80,000 pounds.

Largest Cargo Theft
To date, the largest cargo theft resulted in $76 million worth the loss from an Eli Lilly and Co. warehouse loaded with prescription drugs in Enfield, Conn. on March 14, 2010.

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