When you are passing a massive big-rig on the road, do you ever wonder “just how much does a semi-truck weigh? Here are some answers:
These are general weights. Actual weights for individual semi-trucks vary, depending on the size of the tractor and the load being carried.
Semi-tractors, which are the truck or towing part of big-rigs, typically weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds. How much one weighs depends upon things such as the size of the engine and fuel tanks, how many gears the vehicle has and how large the driving and sleeping compartment is.
The term 18-wheeler is just another way to say semi-truck, big-rig or tractor-trailer. So how much does a semi-truck, or 18-wheeler, weigh when it hauls a load? That depends upon the type of load that it is carrying. However, by law, the maximum weight limit is 80,000 pounds. That maximum includes the weight of the entire big-rig and its freight.
A tandem-axle semi can haul up to 34,000 pounds. A single axle can carry up to 20,000 pounds. This weight limit includes both the weight of the cargo and the trailer. The average weight of an empty container-style trailer is 10,000 pounds.
There are different types of semi-trucks to haul various kinds of freight. Trucks with flatbed trailers carry construction equipment and other bulky and heavy loads. Double-decker open car carriers transport new and used passenger vehicles. Tanker trucks carry petroleum and other liquids and gases. The most common semi-trucks are those with container or box-type trailers. These carry dry goods and other freight.
Both federal and state laws put weight limits on semi-trucks. These limits are put in place for the sake of safety. The larger and heavier a truck is, the harder it is to maneuver and the longer it takes to stop, which is dangerous to other drivers. The weigh stations that you see when traveling on interstates and other highways are intended to enforce weight limits.
Semi-truck weights on all federal interstate highways and Texas roadways cannot exceed 80,000 pounds without a special overweight permit. As mentioned before, this weight maximum is for the entire vehicle and its cargo. Some states have higher weight limits for their non-interstate roads, but still must follow federal laws for interstates. In New Hampshire, the maximum limit for state roads is 99,000 pounds. In Hawaii, it is 88,000 pounds. These are just two examples.
The laws of physics tell us that the heavier a vehicle is, the longer it will take to stop. For this reason, semi-trucks take much longer to stop than passenger cars. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a fully loaded big-rig traveling at 65 mph in good weather and with good road conditions needs up to 600 feet to stop. This is the distance of two football fields. It is also about twice as long as it takes the average passenger car or small truck to stop. In rainy or icy conditions, stopping time increases significantly. If a truck can’t stop in time, it can hit other vehicles, causing deadly accidents.
Accidents can happen for many reasons. Truckers are often expected to work long hours, so sometimes driver fatigue is to blame. Other drivers who negligently cut in front of trucks can cause crashes. Shifting loads in a trailer can cause big-rigs to become unbalanced, and they may jackknife or even roll over. If other vehicles are near the truck, they can be hit. Cargo that isn’t properly loaded can also fall out onto the highway and cause crashes as other drivers try to avoid hitting spilled items.
When truckers ignore maximum weights and overload trucks, dangerous accidents can happen. Too much weight can lead to the need for even longer stopping distances and increased downhill speeds and can even affect vehicle components. Tires can blow out, brakes can fail and other serious problems can result.
The approximately two million tractor-trailers on our roadways are a necessary and important part of the economy. Most goods in the U.S. are delivered by truck. Truckers drive over a billion miles every year getting goods where they need to go. Most truck drivers are law-abiding, safe and careful drivers. But when they aren’t, or when trucking companies push them too hard, or other drivers get in their way, devastating accidents can happen. Because of the sheer size and weight of these semi-trucks, severe injuries and tragic deaths often occur. Unfortunately, Texas has the most commercial truck accidents resulting in injuries and death in the country.
If you’ve been injured in a crash involving a semi-truck, it is to your benefit to speak with an attorney. An experienced truck accident lawyer will ensure your rights are protected after an accident and you may be able to receive compensation. If you have tragically lost a family member in a big-rig accident, an attorney can advise you about the possibility of filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party that caused the crash.
You are not alone when you or a loved one has been in a crash involving an 18-wheeler. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Hanna Law Firm in West Texas will fight for your interests. Call us today at (432) 580-4878 to schedule a free consultation. You don’t pay anything unless we win your case. Don’t wait to get the help that you need. Speak with a skilled truck accident lawyer today.