Heavy haulers are a common sight on highways across the nation, but that wasn’t always the case. Prior to the invention of the automobile in the early 1900s, “heavy haulers” consisted of horse-drawn wagons that transported items to a train depot where the freight continued its journey.
Heavy Hauling History
The regular use of heavy haulers began in the military during World War I. After the war’s end in 1918, the use and value of heavy haulers in civilian projects began to get traction. Early heavy haulers had iron and solid rubber wheels that damaged roads. Trucks were limited to 15 mph and weights of 18,000 to 28,000 lbs., depending on the state. Still, there were about 100,000 trucks on the road.
The need to transport goods and products during World War I increased and trains became congested. Improved roads during the 1920s and the introduction of the diesel engine, standardization of trailer sizes, power brakes and steering, and fifth wheel coupling systems boosted heavy haul use in the 1930s. The government began regulating the industry.
After the end of World War II in 1945, construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and 1960s spurred increased usage of heavy haul vehicles. The desire for more economical ways of transporting products and goods across the nation further increased use.
The 1960s and 1970s saw numerous songs written and films made that romanticized the trucking lifestyle and culture. As greater demands for goods and products increased, so did the need for heavy haulers.
There were over 26 million trucks in use by 2006. The number of accidents climbed as motorists didn’t understand the special requirements and blind spots of heavy haulers. Greater government regulation and safety standards were instituted. Heavy haulers have had a significant effect on the agricultural industry to green energy efforts. Heavy haulers continue to exert an enormous impact on the economy within the U.S. and in international trade.
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