18 fun facts you didn’t know about trucks, truckers and trucking

In honor of National Truck Drivers Appreciation Week, here are a few fun facts you probably never knew about the people and machines who keep our economy moving:

  1. Trucks carry 73% of cargo (by weight) in the US. Of the 4 million shipments of Dangerous Goods every day, 94% are carried by trucks.
  1. Alexander Winton invented the semi-trailer in Cleveland in 1898. Winton was an automobile manufacturer who developed the trailer truck as a way to deliver his cars.
  1. Mack Trucks was founded by brothers John and Gus Mack in 1900. Their first products were buses. Along with trucks, they also made rail cars and locomotives.
  1. Mack adopted their famous bulldog symbol in 1923; the company’s chief engineer carved the first bulldog hood ornament while recovering from an operation.
  1. “Convoy” only ranked #5 on a 2011 list of best trucking songs, according to Today’s Trucking. C.W. McCall’s CB-lingo anthem is the only trucking song most 4-wheel drivers know, but Dave Dudley’s “Six Days on the Road” topped the list.
  1. In a shocking omission, Little Feat’s “Willin’” missed the list entirely.
  1. Truck drivers get hurt and sick a lot, with one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. They can be away from home for weeks at a time. Some truckers even exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
  1. Truckers’ median hourly pay in 2015 was $19.36; the American median was $17.40.
  2. The Spacemaster placard system was invented by Labelmaster’s Abe Samuels in 1976. Thanks to Abe, generations of truckers have saved their fingers (and a ton of time) by simply flipping to the hazmat placards they need, and leaving the pliers in the shop.
  1. Abe Samuels worked at Labelmaster until his retirement last summer at the age of 95.
  1. Only 6% of truck drivers are women. Trucking might be considered a quintessential “man’s job,” but women have proven themselves to be every bit as reliable—and may even be safer drivers.
  1. The first woman truck driver to earn a commercial driver’s license and drive a commercial truck was Lillie McGee Drennan in 1929. She carried a revolver with her at all times.
  1. Kenworth has roots as far back as 1912. Partners Frederick Kent and Edgar K. Worthington bought the Gerlinger Motor Car Company in 1917 and combined their names to introduce the Kenworth brand in 1923.
  1. “Smokey and the Bandit” was the #2-grossing movie of 1977, behind only “Star Wars.” Most of the script was ad-libbed.
  1. Jerry Reed (who co-starred) wrote “East Bound and Down” in one night, and it’s #9 on the Today’s Trucking Top 50.
  1. Steven Spielberg’s first full-length effort as a director was “Duel,” a TV-movie about an ongoing battle between a motorist and a deranged trucker in a Peterbilt 281. His second movie was “Jaws.”
  1. Peterbilt was named after T.A. Peterman, a lumber entrepreneur who needed a better way to move logs from the forest to his lumber mills. After rebuilding army surplus trucks, he built his first new truck—the Model 260—in 1939, and sold 15 in the first year. He died in 1944.
  1. 18 isn’t just the number of wheels on a rig. Because the Hebrew letters used to signify the number 18 also spell the word that means “life,” 18 is an expression of blessing in Jewish tradition.

What fun facts about trucking can you add to this list? We’d love to hear your suggestions—leave a comment!

Make sure your shipments are safe and in full compliance, with a full line of solutions from Labelmaster—a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers.


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