In the years beyond 1920, rural roads were the first of many improvements that lead to the spread of business. This was when mom and pop local stores began using the new trucking technologies available to spread their business outwards.
New Truck Tech Advancements
In general, the 1920s were the real beginning of the trucking industry. The introduction of the more efficient diesel engine, which is 25-40 percent more efficient than gas engines. Truck sizes were standardized and semi-trailers were created, along with six-cylinder engines and power-assisted brakes and steering. All of these made it easier to transport more in less time. The meager years of the early 1930s had some unfavorable effects on trucking, but as the use of the semi-trailer became better adapted to heavier loads, they increased 500 percent from 1929 to 1936.
Trucking Fueled the Alcohol Business
During the years of Prohibition (1920-33) trucks were essential for the illegal, underground trading of alcohol. The United States’ economy plummeted for thirteen years, as alcohol drove many businesses before, and people just went to the underground economy. Trucking was booming, however. New trucking advancements developed and more truck businesses began to crop up. It was easy for any business to buy a truck and hide alcohol inside, they were unlikely to be stopped by police and they could not move large quantities faster and more easily further across the country.
Regulations on Trucking
There was a rapid growth in the trucks on the streets in the late 20s on into the 30s. By 1933, all states had some form of varying truck weight regulation and a trailer that could hold up to four cars was available. President Roosevelt saw some regulatory issues in this new industry and in 1935 the Motor Carrier Act brought the first safety regulations to the industry, as well as authorizing the Interstate Commerce Commission. This included the first “hours of service” regulations in 1938.