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Prior tothe 20th century, freight was generally transported overland via trains and railroads.During this time, trains were essential, and they werehighlyefficient at moving large amounts of freight.But, they could only deliver that freight to urban centers for distribution by horse-drawn transport.Though there were several trucks throughout this time, theywere usedmore as space for advertising that for actual utility.At this time, the use of range for trucks was quite challenging.The use of electric engines, lack of paved rural roads, and small load capacities limited trucks to most short-haul urban routes.
Trucks and cars have much in commonmechanicallyas well asancestrally.One link between them is the steam-powered fardier Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, who built it in 1769. Unfortunately for him, steam trucks were notreallycommon until the mid 1800's. While looking at thispractically, it would be much harder to have a steam truck. This ismostlydue to the fact that the roads of the timewere builtfor horse and carriages. Steam truckswere leftto very short hauls, usually from a factory to the nearest railway station.In 1881, the first semi-trailer appeared, and it was in fact towed by a steam tractor manufactured by De Dion-Bouton.Steam-powered truckswere soldin France and in the United States,apparentlyuntil the eve of World War I. Also, at the beginning of World War II in the United Kingdom, theywere knownas 'steam wagons'.
DOT officers of each state are generally in charge of the enforcement of the Hours of Service (HOS). These are sometimes checked when CMVs pass through weigh stations. Drivers found to be in violation of the HOS canbe forcedto stop driving for a certain period of time. This, in turn, maynegativelyaffect the motor carrier's safety rating. Requests to change the HOS are a source of debate. Unfortunately, many surveysindicatedriversroutinelyget away with violating the HOS.Such facts have started yet another debate on whether motor carriers shouldbe requiredto us EOBRs in their vehicles.Relying on paper-based log books does not always seem to enforce the HOS law put in place for the safety of everyone.
In 1991 the film "Thelma & Louise" premiered,rapidlybecoming a well known movie.Throughout the movie, a dirty and abrasive truck driver harasses the two women during chance encounters.Author Michael Dunne describes this minor character as "fat and ignorant" and "a lustful fool blinded by a delusion of male superiority".Thelma and Louise exact their revenge by feigning interest in him and then blowing up his tanker truck full of gas.
The 1950's were quite different than the years to come.They were more likely tobe considered"Knights of the Road", if you will, for helping stranded travelers.In these times truck driverswere enviedandwere viewedas 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. Driversroutinelysabotaged and discovered new ways to falsify the machine's records.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) conducted a series of tests.These tests were extensive field tests of roads and bridges to assess damages to the pavement.In particular they wanted to know how traffic contributes to the deterioration of pavement materials. These testsessentiallyled to the 1964 recommendation by AASHTO to Congress.The recommendation determined the gross weight limit for trucks tobe determined bya bridge formula table. This includes table based on axle lengths, instead of a state upper limit. By the time 1970 came around, there were over 18 million truck on America's roads.