6 facts you should know about trucking

Dec 13, 2019, 9:11 AM | Updated: Jan 2, 2020, 2:00 pm

SPONSORED — Most people likely don’t know how important trucking is to the American economy, but the role it plays in everyday life is staggering. If the industry were to disappear, there would be serious ramifications.

Here are six facts to know about trucking and why you should care.

Trucking hauls more freight than all other methods, combined

Trucking transports every imaginable good from one place to another. More than 70% of freight by weight in the U.S. is moved by trucks, according to an American Trucking Association survey. That added up to almost 12 billion tons in 2018.

The next most common transportation methods for freight are rail, vessel, air, and pipeline, which, added together, don’t come close to the weight that trucks move, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

There are two types of truck drivers

Truckers are split into two categories: OTR and regional.

OTR stands for “over the road,” with drivers transporting freight throughout the United States. OTR drivers spend several days or weeks on the road at a time.

Regional drivers, on the other hand, remain within a few hours of where they live and usually go home at night, with occasional trips of a few nights.

Trucks stop shortages

All goods must be moved from factories and farms to stores, banks, gas stations, hospitals, and so on. If every truck were pulled from the road, there would be immediate consequences. Here is just a sampling, according to the ATA:

• Clean drinking water would run dry in two to four weeks.
• Hospitals and nursing homes would exhaust food supplies in as little as 24 hours.
• Patient care would be immediately jeopardized.
• Within days, people would be literally buried in garbage.
• Gas station fuel supplies would start to run out in one to two days.
• ATM and bank cash resources would be quickly exhausted.

This is also why weather delays have a big impact on the economy. When it comes to shipping, things need to get where they’re going on time.

Trucks drive billions of miles every year

In 2017, the ATA estimates there were 36 million trucks registered for business use, not counting those associated with the government or farming. Those trucks drove almost 300 billion miles in one year. To put that in perspective, the distance from Earth to the moon is 238,900 miles.

The trucking industry employs 7.8 million people throughout the economy, half of them drivers.

The trucking industry has a shortage of drivers

The trucking industry is growing but struggling to keep up with demand. In 2018, the ATA reported a shortage of more than 60,000 drivers to meet the country’s need for freight services.

“There are many reasons for the current driver shortage, but one of the largest factors is the relatively high average age of the existing workforce,” a 2019 ATA report says. “According to surveys by ATA, the average driver age in the for-hire over-the-road truckload industry is 46.”

Unfortunately, numerous drivers near retirement aren’t being replaced.

Another major factor is the increasing popularity of online shopping. Without enough drivers, shipping giants like Amazon face difficulties with getting packages delivered on time.

Trucking pays the bills

Pay for trucking jobs differs, but Knight Transport LLC pays their OTR drivers that travel the country $65,000 to $85,000 per year, while regional drivers earn $62,000 to $78,000. Additionally, there are new hire bonuses, anniversary, safety bonuses and drivers often have long weekends to reconnect with their families.

For more information on truck driving or to apply to become a driver, visit


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6 facts you should know about trucking