In the trucking industry today, sleepers are often complete with internet access, satellite television, and electricity for cooking—much like a modern RV. Some go as far as granite counter tops and beautiful hardwood floors.These glamorous and fully equipped sleepers are often taken for granted— this type of luxury wasn’t always the case.
In the 1940s, very few trucks had sleepers. Those that did were often considered a “death trap” because the cabin was located between the engine and the cab. If an accident were to happen while the passenger was sleeping, there was practically no escape from the vehicle. In place of a sleeper, drivers had to either sleep in their seats, lodge at a truck stop along their route, or find a room in a stranger’s house.
The first legitimate, overhead sleeper model was created in1953 by Freightliner. Although a small and uncomfortable space, it at least allowed the driver to lay down without paying for a motel. As regulations tightened and restricted the amount of consecutive time drivers could be on the road, while routes grew longer and longer, the need for larger, extended cabins increased.
Sleepers today vary greatly and are often customized to some extent. In addition to the wide variety of equipment and amenities, they provide comfortable and safe solace for drivers. They have certainly come a long way in the last 60 years. For more information, take a look at this trucking timeline by Freightliner.