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The trucking industry has made a large historical impact since the early 20th century. It has affected the U.S. both politically as well as economically since the notion has begun. Previous to the invention of automobiles, most freight was moved by train or horse-drawn carriage. Trucks were first exclusively used by the military during World War I. After the war, construction of paved roads increased. As a result, trucking began to achieve significant popularity by the 1930's. Soon after trucking became subject to various government regulation, such as the hours of service. During the later 1950's and 1960's, trucking accelerated due to the construction of the Interstate Highway System. The Interstate Highway System is an extensive network of freeways linking major cities cross country.
The number one hit on the Billboard chart in 1976 was quite controversial for the trucking industry. "Convoy," is a song about a group of reckless truck drivers bent on evading laws such as toll booths and speed traps. The song went on to inspire the film "Convoy", featuring defiant Kris Kristofferson screaming "piss on your law!" After the film's release, thousands of independent truck drivers went on strike. The participated in violent protests during the 1979 energy crisis. However, similar strikes had occurred during the 1973 energy crisis.
A semi-trailer is almost exactly what it sounds like, it is a trailer without a front axle. Proportionally, its weight is supported by two factors. The weight falls upon a road tractor or by a detachable front axle assembly, known as a dolly. Generally, a semi-trailer is equipped with legs, known in the industry as "landing gear". This means it can be lowered to support it when it is uncoupled. In the United States, a trailer may not exceed a length of 57 ft (17.37 m) on interstate highways. However, it is possible to link two smaller trailers together to reach a length of 63 ft (19.20 m).
The 1950's were quite different than the years to come. They were more likely to be considered "Knights of the Road", if you will, for helping stranded travelers. In these times truck drivers were envied and were viewed as an opposition to the book "The Organization Man". Bestseller in 1956, author William H. Whyte's novel describes "the man in the gray flannel suit", who sat in an office every day. He's describing a typical office style job that is very structured with managers watching over everyone. Truck drivers represented the opposite of all these concepts. Popular trucking songs glorified the life of drivers as independent "wanderers". Yet, there were attempts to bring back the factory style efficiency, such as using tachnographs. Although most attempts resulted in little success. Drivers routinely sabotaged and discovered new ways to falsify the machine's records.
In 1984 the animated TV series The Transformers told the story of a group of extraterrestrial humanoid robots. However, it just so happens that they disguise themselves as automobiles. Their leader of the Autobots clan, Optimus Prime, is depicted as an awesome semi-truck.
With the onset of trucking culture, truck drivers often became portrayed as protagonists in popular media. Author Shane Hamilton, who wrote "Trucking Country: The Road to America's Wal-Mart Economy", focuses on truck driving. He explores the history of trucking and while connecting it development in the trucking industry. It is important to note, as Hamilton discusses the trucking industry and how it helps the so-called big-box stores dominate the U.S. marketplace. Hamilton certainly takes an interesting perspective historically speaking.
Smoke and the Bandit was released in 1977, becoming the third-highest grossing movie. Following only behind Star Wars Episode IV and Close Encounter of the Third Kind, all three movies making an impact on popular culture. Conveniently, during that same year, CB Bears debuted as well. The Saturday morning cartoon features mystery-solving bears who communicate by CB radio. As the 1970's decade began to end and the 80's broke through, the trucking phenomenon had wade. With the rise of cellular phone technology, the CB radio was no longer popular with passenger vehicles, but, truck drivers still use it today.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is the most common government agency that is devoted to transportation in the United States. The DOT is the largest United States agency with the sole purpose of overseeing interstate travel and issue's USDOT Number filing to new carriers. The U.S., Canadian provinces, and many other local agencies have a similar organization in place. This way they can provide enforcement through DOT officers within their respective jurisdictions.