President Dwight D. Eisenhower championed the idea of a national, interstate highway system in the mid-1950's, and it was finally completed in the early 90's. Only China's highway system is longer in terms of total miles.
The Importance of the Trucking Industry
"Trucks make their first economic contribution by delivering raw materials to manufacturers. For example, trucks transport raw materials from local suppliers, such as mines, quarries, farms, and loggers, to factories that need materials to make products. "
Wikipedia - More on the Interstate Highway System
"The network has since been extended and, as of 2013, it had a total length of 47,856 miles (77,017 km), making it the world's second longest after China's. As of 2013, about one-quarter of all vehicle miles driven in the country use the Interstate system."
As recently as 2013, around 70% of goods moved in the U.S. traveled at least part of the way by truck.
Latest American Trucking Trends Confirms Trucking as Dominant Freight Mode
"Trucking continues to move the most, and most valuable, freight in the United States despite the challenges of congestion, regulations and crumbling infrastructure."
Nothing. Literally, nothing. Air, water, and rail capacity would not be able to make up the difference, not to mention the "last mile" of transportation to get goods to their final destination.
We would generally have to resort to sustenance farming, bartering, and cave-dwelling, until such time as things started to move again.
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014 - Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Moving this much freight around required employing over 1.6 million truck drivers in 2014. The impact on employment alone, as most jobs depend in some way on the trucking industry, would devastate the economy.
Bureaucracy And Unfair Expectations Plague Today's Truck Drivers
"It is often said that a grocery store which does not get any deliveries will be out of food within three days. Popular Mechanics also states that 68% of all goods in the United States are delivered by semi trucks. That equates to about 60,000 pounds per person in the country."
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the Federal agency, operating under the Department of Transportation (DOT), responsible for regulating the trucking industry. Their main focus is on reducing injuries, fatalities, and crashes involving large commercial vehicles.
CSA - Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program
Hours Of Service Regulations (HOS) For Drivers
They are responsible for overseeing programs such as Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), which measures carriers safety and compliance performance, and Hours-of-Service regulations, which dictates drivers day-to-day availability in terms of how they are allowed to spend their time driving or resting.
"Interstate" driving simply means that you are or will be driving across state lines. "Intrastate" driving means that you will ONLY be driving in your home state. The difference is important for 2 reasons:
Generally, and in theory, the individual states are required at the least to implement the standards and regulations that the FMCSA has finalized. States are allowed to make certain rules above and beyond what the FMCSA dictates, such as in their CDL manuals, but mainly the differences will be slight, and barely noticeable.
That said, not all states are quick to adopt, and may even actively resist, new FMCSA regulations and standards, generally leading to some confusion when dealing with individual states. Always check with an individual state's Department of Motor Vehicles or Licensing to verify what specific requirements they have for CDL drivers.
Is Truck Driving A Good Career Choice?
"Both men and women can flourish in this field. Trucking is not only fun and adventurous, but also gives you a secure future where you will be in demand. If you have a passion for driving and love to travel to different places at any given time, then you are a suitable person for this job. "
Are automated and self-driving vehicles going to hurt opportunities for truck drivers?
"The automated trucks are not going to eliminate the need for drivers anytime soon. As was mentioned, airplanes have been able to fly themselves for a very long time and yet you still see a pilot and co-pilot in the plane."
Truck Driver Shortage Jumps in Q3
The generally accepted outlook over the past 10 years had been that the trucking industry is, and will be in the near future, suffering from a driver shortage and having trouble filling positions as fast as they become available. The turnover rate for larger carriers hovers around 100%, 75% for smaller carriers, and around 10% for less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers.
Driver shortage: Where are the empty shelves?
"As long as a consumer is able to buy it, he really has to be skeptical that a shortage exists,” says analyst Gordon Klemp, who himself has no doubt about the driver shortage’s existence. “As long as he can buy corn every time he goes to the store, there may be a corn shortage, but not in his house."
The recession of 2008 that depressed driver salaries that have only just recently begun to recover, and increased regulation and an aging workforce have all contributed to the perceived shortage, as potential drivers may be looking elsewhere for employment.
Truck Driver Pay & Salary, Extra Pay Types
Drivers get paid in a whole host of different ways, but most new drivers will be paid cents-per-mile (CPM). Additionally, there are plenty of extra bonuses and pay types that many drivers take advantage of, like signing bonuses, tarping pay (for flatbedders), and extra pay for driving into New York City (considered by truck drivers to be an "11" for hassle, on a scale of 1-10).
Truck Driving Salary: My First Year Breakdown
Our resident rock star Daniel B. detailed his first year's salary, breaking it down week-by-week. He grossed what most new OTR drivers can expect to gross: around $35,000 in the first year. His thread also includes an interesting look at how his rookie year went, and what he learned about the trucking lifestyle.
Average truck driver salary by state
At the bottom of our Truck Driver Pay wiki entry is a list of average driver salaries by state, as of 2015.
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Officially, U.S. truck drivers averaged around $42,000 in 2014. Technically, truck drivers wages have been growing, but not as fast as the average wage for all occupations in the U.S., which is around $47,000.