Trucking in America: My Love Song to the Industry

19 Apr 2024

Imagine empty shelves in supermarkets, closed cafes, and abandoned cars on the street with no fuel in tanks. This isn’t the beginning of a global war or a zombie apocalypse — it’s what will happen in America if the trucking industry stops for just three days.

Trucking is the backbone of logistics in the States. Trucks move roughly 71% of the nation’s freight by weight, from iPhones to aspirin and toilet paper. The industry employs 8.5 million U.S. citizens.

The significance of trucking in this country was one of the reasons why I moved here in 2017 and why I founded a trucking startup as an immigrant. There are other reasons, too.

Highest Rates Per Mile

When I first ventured into the trucking business in 2016-2017, I thought India was an excellent market because of its growing pace. But while the industry there did develop fast, low rates per mile meant I wouldn’t have revenue as high as in the U.S.

The average rate per mile in India is about 98 cents. For reference: It’s $2.42 in Canada and $2.90 in the U.S. And this is the most important metric, which directly impacts the profitability and sustainability of a trucking business.

Stakh Vozniak, co-founder and CEO at Cargofy, at Iowa 80 Truckstop. Photo from 2017.

Best Roads and Trucks

The U.S. has the world’s largest road network, with over 4 million miles of roads, including more than 164,000 miles of the National Highway System. India is in second place with a gap of about 100,000 miles. Such an extensive network allows U.S. truck drivers to deliver goods fast while burning less fuel. This means higher revenues.

The U.S. is also home to some of the most driver-friendly trucks in the industry. UPS, FedEx, XPO Logistics, and many others invest in state-of-the-art vehicles. I can’t even allow myself to call them trucks — these are apartments on wheels.

Some cabins could put studio apartments to shame. Comfortable beds, refrigerators, microwave ovens, satellite TV, and Wi-Fi make spending days on the road much more enjoyable.

Immigrant-Friendly Field

The U.S. is known as a nation of immigrants, and this diversity is well reflected in the trucking industry. Immigrants make up nearly 19% of 3.5 million employed drivers, which is slightly higher than the 17% in the country’s overall labor force.

Why so? The main reasons are a good salary and a straightforward learning process. Truck drivers earn on average $60,000 per year. Median for hospitality or construction industries, which are also popular with immigrants, stands at around $30,000.

To become a truck driver in America, you need just two things: about two months of training and a commercial driver's license. Many companies even offer in-house training for immigrants.

Super-Fast Market

When I landed in the U.S. to launch a startup in 2017, the market size was already substantial at $700 billion. In 2022, it hit $940 billion. In 2026, it’s projected to reach $4 trillion.

The key growth drivers (no pun intended) include rapid e-commerce expansion, high industry competitiveness, and integration of data analytics and AI. Innovative startups are constantly emerging in the market to help drivers and dispatchers make more money. With AI, for example, drivers can forecast load volumes, delivery times, market trends, and seasonal changes accurately. Dispatchers, in turn, can handle three times more requests.

The trucking industry still has room for new players, despite huge companies already in the market, like Uber Freight, Emerge, Loadsmart, and Transfix. If you have an idea about automating trucking processes and making logistics generally easier for businesses, the U.S. market is a great place to start.

Feature Image: Stakh Vozniak, co-founder and CEO at Cargofy, at Iowa 80 Truckstop. Photo from 2017.