7 Surprising Things About Semi-Trucks

Semi-trucks are the undisputed kings of the American roads. Often traveling by packs, they shuffle the basic commodities that we need – and the caprices that we desire – from one place to another. It can be said that without these trailers, the world will go to a grinding halt. Pay homage to these great big vehicles by wrapping your head around these 7 surprising things about semi-trucks.

semi truck facts

  1. Semi-Trucks are Larger than Life.

They are not called eighteen wheelers for nothing. Whereas the traditional car only weighs 5,000 pounds, a semi-truck has a legal weight of 80,000 pounds or 40 tons. The legal weight per axle comprises of the following:

  • Steer – 20,000 pounds
  • Drives – 34,000 pounds
  • Trailer – 34,000 pounds

A semi-truck, also known as a tractor-trailer rig, is insanely long as well. The length can vary according to the cab that is driven. But on the average, it spans anywhere from 70 to 80 feet in length.

As for the height, the standard semi-truck stands a statuesque 13 feet, 6 inches tall.

  1. They are Astonishingly Expensive As Well.

Brand new cabs of semi-trucks cost anywhere from $130,000 to $180,000. The buyer has to pay an additional $30,000 to $80,000 for a new trailer.

  1. Semi-Trucks Have Countless Gears.

The average 18-wheeler has 10 forward and 2 reverse gears. This is just the most common count though, as there are semi-trucks that have 9, 10, 13, 15 and 18 gears.

In order to shift, drivers have to employ the double-clutch technique. In a semi-truck, the clutch is depressed twice to match the gears to the truck’s rpms.

In most cases, the driver makes use of the ‘floating’ method, wherein the clutch is only used to start and stop the vehicle.

  1. It Takes a Lot of Time to Stop a Semi-Truck.

A semi-truck takes 40% more of the time used to stop a common car. This figure largely varies though, depending on the road conditions and the weight of the load. The braking time can be further modified, especially if the driver is bobtailing – or driving without a connected trailer.

The vehicle’s halting process can be owed to its three braking options: the drive axle brake, the steering axle brake and the trailer axle brake.

  1. The Number One Cause of Semi-Truck Accidents is Jack Knifing.

Jack knifing is a braking accident wherein the attached trailer of the semi-truck swings out. It then comes to rest, setting out on a 90-degree angle from the truck. Not only can it hit the driver, it can hit several cars along the way.

jack knifed semi-truck

And that’s not the end of it. It can get worse, especially if the driver is going at a very fast speed. The semi-truck can roll over, thereby leading to a possibly lethal accident.

Apart from faulty braking, jack knifing can also result from driving on a low-friction surface or quickly entering a curved pass. Use of engine retardants can lead to this fatal accident as well.

  1. Most Semi-Trucks Can Be Found Within 3 States.

Out of the 1.9 million semi-trucks in the United States, a third of the population can be found in California, Florida and Texas.

  1. Semi-Trucks are Associated with More Whopping Figures.

Semi-trucks are associated with more whopping figures. Here are some of them:

  • 2 million – total number of semi-truck drivers in the United States.
  • 140 billion miles – the annual driving length of all the semi-trucks in the country.
  • 13 billion tons – the total weight of goods (so far) that semi-trucks have delivered throughout the United States. When compounded, this averages to about 60,000 pounds per American.
  • $255.5 billion – the value of the 13 billion tons of goods transported by American semi-trucks.