You’ve Got to See These Interesting Facts About Semi-Trucks and Trailers


If you drive a big rig you are in a class above all the rest, literally. A semi truck is one of those vehicles that interests people who’ve never been in or driven one. Think about it. How many times a week do you honk your horn when a kid pumps his arm at you? When you stop at a red light and you’ve got an awesome looking load, like a flatbed trailer loaded down with bee boxes a buzzing, people around you are going to look in amazement. Well, in the case of the bees they might look in fear, but that’s another issue. At any rate being a driver of a big rig puts you in the front row seat to one of the coolest modes of transportation on the roadways. Not convinced? Here are some awe inspiring facts that will make you think twice about your own truck.

  • A new model semi truck costs anywhere from $130,000 to $180,000 for the tractor, and $30,000 to $80,000 for a trailer, making your grand total at $26,000 or greater—which is why buying a gently used semi truck and trailer can be a good bargain.
  • Bigger trucks means increased stopping time; a truck needs 40 percent more space to come to a complete stop when compared to a passenger car. Of course this varies depending on how much you are hauling, weather conditions, road conditions, and whether or not you are pulling a trailer.
  • A semi holds at least 15 gallons, that’s right gallons, of oil; a car only needs up to 6 quarts of the slick stuff.
  • Big rig fuel tanks hold up to 300 gallons of diesel. Compare that to the practically tiny tanks used by cars.
  • Semi trucks aren’t exactly known for being efficient over the road. In fact, a big rig will burn fuel at a rate of 4 to 8 miles per gallon. On the other hand cars are being manufactured that have 40-plus miles to the gallon, putting big rigs to shame in this department.
  • One driver over the road with long haul trucking will drive an estimated 100,000 miles a year. LTL loads account for only 45,000 miles a year per regional truck driver.
  • In 2006 alone all of the commercial trucks drove for a quarter of a trillion miles. Imagine trying to add all of those zeros; now that’s a lot of ground to cover.
  • California, Florida and Texas are the states with the most semis, as more than one-third of the big rigs running in the US are registered in these three states.
  • The US has approximately 3.2 million truck drivers with CDLs, but there are only 1.9 million registered semi trucks. Someone’s going to have to slide over and make room for some unemployed truckers.
  • The US trucking industry is made up primarily of small businesses and owner operators, as 90 percent of these types of businesses have less than six semis in operation. So while you see the tractor trailers roll by with names like Swift, Werner and JB Hunt, these big companies only account for about 10 percent of the industry.
  • Top semi truck brands include Peterbilt, Mack Trucks, Freightliner, Kenworth, Volvo, International, and Western Star Trucks.
  • If you look at what is delivered in the US, 68 percent of all freight is delivered by semis. Break this down and every American would account for an over the top 60,000 pounds of freight—in a year.
  • The heaviest hauls in the US are construction materials and agricultural commodities, which account for the most bulk weight.
  • A semi truck can haul up to 80,000 pounds of freight at one time, safely. However, you also have oversized loads that account for much more than that, but require specialized escorts, increased axles and a smaller window for driving during the daylight hours for safety.
  • Speaking of safety, the most common accident happening for truckers is the rollover. It used to be jackknifing, but that’s since declined substantially thanks to the requirement that all trucks feature anti-lock breaks. Now if we could just use our modern technology to innovate a way to decrease rollovers, the trucking world would be a lot safer.

So there you have it, some facts and figures to brag about over your Thanksgiving dinner and holiday gatherings. Let everyone you love know just how important, and big, your trucking jobs truly are. As it’s harvest season and the time of thanks, it’s also a great time to give yourself a pat on the back for being a part of this most important industry.