Did You Know? Fun Facts for National Transportation Week

About National Transportation Week

This year’s National Transportation Week is May 16 – May 20. How are you celebrating with your team? Whether it’s hauling cargo on trucks or transporting people on planes, the transportation industry is critical to how the United States functions. The national holiday to acknowledge and appreciate transportation-industry personnel was declared in 1999 by President Bill Clinton and has been celebrated each year since.

Throughout America's history, our transportation system has played a profound role in the security and development of our Nation. As early as the Revolutionary War, America's merchant marine carried cargo to help defend our national interests and uphold our democratic ideals. In the 1800's, as many Americans migrated westward, new roads and canals facilitated travel and trade, helping to unify our young country and to bolster our growing economy. And in the 20th century, few innovations have had the same far-reaching effect on our society as the airplane -- now a critical part of our national defense and our robust economy. - From the White House’s holiday proclamation, May 17, 1999

These words still ring true today! The transportation industry has evolved over the years but has played a crucial role in the lives of Americans every step of the way.

Trucking and Transportation Fun Facts

Historical Figures

  • Alexander Winton from Cleveland, Ohio invented the semi-truck in 1898 and sold his first truck in 1899.
  • The first speeding ticket was issued in 1902. The driver was traveling at 45 miles per hour.
  • The first cab-over-engine truck was introduced in 1959.
  • The road network in the United States is the biggest one in the world (4.09 million miles).
  • Between 2010 and 2018, the number of trucks increased by 22.9%.

Transportation and the Economy

  • One of every seven jobs in the U.S. is related to transportation (more than 14% of the nation).
  • One-third of all semi-trucks operating in the U.S. are registered in California, Florida and Texas.
  • According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistic’s 2021 Annual Report, domestically-produced freight accounts for 80% of the value of freight moved to, from or within the U.S.
  • Transportation’s total estimated contribution to U.S. GDP was $1,298.1 billion in 2019. Trucking contributed the largest amount of all the freight modes, at $368.9 billion.

Freight and Fuel

  • Prior to 2020, the U.S. transportation system moved roughly 51 million tons of goods each day (56.9 tons per resident!)
  • The trucking industry is responsible for moving more than 70% of all freight each year.
  • Trucks moved 61% of hazardous material tonnage in 2017.
  • In 2018, roughly 67% of the weight of all goods moved that year traveled less than 250 miles between origin and destination.
  • In 2019, commercial trucks accounted for approximately 10.3 percent of highway vehicle-miles traveled.
  • 45.6 billion gallons of fuel were consumed by trucks (used for business purposes) in 2019.
  • Diesel prices hit a 14-year high in March 2022 at an average of $5.11 per gallon.

RTS would like to formally thank all transportation professionals who keep this country running! If you have questions about how you can streamline your trucking operations, reach out to one of our dedicated experts today.