How Much Does a Semi-Truck Weigh?

May 2, 2023 Truck Accidents

How much does a semi-truck weigh? The answer is that it depends. There are many weight variations, depending on different factors. Here are some weight examples:

  • Semi-tractors weigh up to 25,000 pounds.
  • An 18-wheeler can legally weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
  • A semi-truck can haul up to 34,000 pounds.

Why is this important? Because the added weight of a semi-truck can make them more dangerous to other drivers since they become more difficult to control.

If you have been in a crash with a semi-truck, it is important to know if they have broken any rules or if the company or driver has been negligent.

Why Choose Us

Attention to detail is required for this kind of case. You will need lawyers with the most experience, the best track record, and a lot of compassion. And that is what you will get when you choose Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law.

We have been fighting for victims’ rights since 1985. Terry Bryant knows the law — and the Texas laws in particular. He is a former judge and is also Board Certified in personal injury law. This means that his extensive knowledge of the law has been certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Our firm has also been a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business for many years. It was honored for multiple years in a row to be one of the companies to win a Winner of Distinction award from the BBB. This just shows our dedication to providing the best service that our clients can get and making sure that they are cared for.

Our handpicked team of lawyers and support staff use their experience to work for clients every day and get them the best compensation possible. The results speak for themselves. We have helped our clients receive millions in restitution on many cases including truck accidents.

We made a promise to all our clients that we will fight injustice. It doesn’t matter if the opponent is big or influential. We have gone to battle against corporations, pharmaceutical giants, and also insurance companies in high-profile cases . . . and we have been successful.

If you have been in a semi-truck accident, then you should reach out to us so we can fight against all parties that are responsible for your injuries and make sure that you are given the due payments that you deserve.

What Causes Semi-Truck Crashes?

There are a variety of reasons for crashes involving big rigs. From truck driver fatigue to other drivers on the road, the possibilities are many and varied. Issues with loads can also cause crashes:

  • Loads that are not secured properly can shift and become unbalanced. Shifting loads can make the truck harder to steer and maneuver and even lead to jackknifes and rollovers. And when a truck’s cargo isn’t secured properly, there is always the chance it will become free of the trailer and spill out onto the roadway, causing mishaps.
  • Overloaded trucks carrying too much weight take longer to stop so can cause deadly rear-end collisions. Too much weight can also dangerously increase downhill speeds. Tires may blow out due to too-heavy loads and cause drivers to lose control and potentially hit other vehicles. Mechanical components can also fail when too much stress is put on them.
  • Unbalanced truck loads can become a danger, too. They make the truck a lot heavier on one side than the other. They need to be loaded evenly to ensure that a trailer doesn’t tip when going around corners or easily tip. Loads can vary in weight. Even when everything is secured properly, if the weight has not been distributed correctly, it can still become dangerous. If there is a big fluctuation in weight, the trailer will be off balance. This can cause disaster.

Federal Semi Truck Loading Guidelines

Because the way that trucks are loaded is so important, and is one of the leading causes of accidents, there are federal regulations that dictate how certain types of cargo are loaded and how they should be secured.

Some rules also require that drivers stop and do inspections at certain intervals. One of the first rules is that a driver should stop after about 50 miles and inspect the load. This allows them to make sure that there are no issues where the load has shifted or gotten out of place. The 50 miles is far enough that changes would have occurred, if they were going to, and a driver can spot them and fix these issues.

After that first inspection, most states require that a driver should stop and inspect their load often, normally at around 150-mile intervals, when it is possible to safely stop.

Maximum Weights

The maximum weight is important since this is a critical factor in many accidents. This is because certain trucks can’t carry more than their maximum weight and their brakes can’t handle more. It is also important since these trucks can damage the roads and bridges, making them unsafe for other road users.

There are different rules in different states, but many truck drivers go through various states on their travels and then the federal laws also become important to consider. You can get a permit to carry more weight.

But the maximum weight and distribution without a permit are as follows:

  • Steer axle weight limit — 12,000 pounds
  • Drives weight limit — 35,000 pounds
  • Cab and trailer at maximum capacity weight — Up to 80,000 pounds

The maximum weight that can go over a bridge according to federal laws is 3,500 pounds. All of these maximum weights will determine the amount that a semi-truck can carry, since their own weight counts toward the overall weight.

Semi-Tractor Truck

A semi-tractor is the truck part of the vehicle that contains the engine. How heavy is a semi-tractor without a trailer or trailer attached?

Depending on the type of truck, it might weigh between 15,000 and 25,000 pounds. Trucks with bigger sleeper areas, larger fuel tanks, bigger engines, and more gears would be at the higher end. Contrast that weight with the average car that weighs just 4,000-5,000 pounds to get a good picture of just how heavy semi-tractors are.

The engine in a semi-tractor weighs more than six times as much as the average car engine, according to The Truckers Report. Some of these truck engines weigh as much as 3,000 pounds.

18-Wheeler Truck

The average 18-wheeler with an empty trailer weigh around 35,000 pounds. But how much does an 18-wheeler weigh when carrying freight? That depends on the kind of freight and whether it is a full or partial load.

In the United States, the top allowed weight limit for 18-wheelers is 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons, according to Federal Highway Administration regulations. That limit, which was set to avoid damage to roads and bridges, includes the tractor, trailer, and cargo weight. In some cases, special permits are issued for overweight or oversized semi-truck loads.

Semi Haul Truck

There are both single- and double-axle semi-trucks. By law, single-axle semis can haul up to 20,000 pounds. A double-axle semi, also called a tandem axle, can haul up to 34,000 pounds. These limits include the freight and trailer weight combined.

Categories Of Semi-Truck

There are different types of semi-trucks, and their classifications are based on gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This considers the maximum legal weight of the truck and then how much it can weigh when fully loaded. They consider factors like fuel, cargo, passengers, and anything else that can be hauled or can impact the weight.

The weight difference can be massive and have a big impact on semi-truck accidents. The three main categories include:

  • Heavy Duty Trucks
  • Medium Duty Trucks
  • Light Duty Trucks

But even inside these categories, there are different classes and weights too.

Heavy Duty Trucks

These are vehicles that carry more than 26, 000 pounds. They are used for long distances and to transport large shipments.

They can include big rigs, the semi-trucks that are called 18-wheelers. They are those massive semis that often can have two trailers. It is a weight that shifts inside of those trailers which is one of the most dangerous parts of these big rigs. The maximum laden weight for a heavy-duty semi-truck is 33,000 pounds in most states.

Class 7 semi-trucks are also included in this category. They have a GVWR of between 26,001 and 33,000 pounds. They also normally have less than three single axles.

Examples of Class 7 vehicles that are also used for commercial use are:

  • Garbage trucks
  • Sweeper trucks
  • Furniture trucks
  • City transit buses

Truck accidents with these will follow the same legal rules as other semi-truck accidents.

Medium-Duty Trucks

Medium-duty semi-trucks are used to transport cargo and goods inside a city or for shorter distances than heavy-duty vehicles. One of the most common types of medium-duty commercial vehicles is the box truck.

Medium-duty semi-truck has a weight of between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds. They can also be divided into three more classes.

Class 4 –This category has a GVWR of between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds. They are most commonly used for construction vehicles, utilities, and also delivery fleets.

Class 5 – This classification has a GVWR of between 10,001 and 14,000 pounds and is most commonly used as food trucks, cargo vans, and also service trucks.

Class 6 – The class has a GVWR of between 14,001 and 25,000 pounds and is often used for big box trucks like those used by delivery companies.

Medium-duty trucks can only carry medium-sized loads, and they can’t go very fast. They normally have a single axle. Delivery trucks and school and city buses are all examples of this category.

Light-Duty Trucks

The final category is light-duty trucks. They include the smallest and the lightest semi-tractors. They have a laden weight of less than 10,000 pounds and normally transport small shipments over short distances.

They are some of the most common types of semi-truck and as such one of the most common semi-trucks to be in an accident.

Some examples of this category include:

  • Garbage trucks
  • Cement trucks
  • City delivery trucks
  • Beverage deliveries
  • Dump trucks
  • Box trucks
  • Fuel tanks
  • Sleeper cabs
  • Rack trucks

Because they are lighter vehicles, their load can make a big difference in their weight and how they handle them. If a truck driver is not aware of these differences, it can become a danger.

What Are Weigh Stations?

In most states, tax will be collected based on the weight of the semi-truck. They can also face fines if they are carrying more weight than lawful and don’t have permits or if their cargo is not balanced to the correct standard. But to know exactly how much a semi-truck weighs, there are weight stations all over the United States set to keep these semi-trucks in check.

The three types of weigh stations are:

  • Single Axle – these will weigh each axle at a time; the truck drives over the scale slowly, stopping to allow it to weigh an axle at a time.
  • One-Stop – These stations have a series of connected scales; when the semi stops on them, they add each axle to create a gross weight.
  • Weigh-in-motion – These stations are becoming more popular since they weigh the truck as it drives through, without the need to stop; they also check the weight distribution.

These weigh stations are designed to keep trucks in check and make them safe. But when an accident does happen, they can also provide important information about the weight of the truck that was involved.

What Kinds of Cargo Do Semi-Trucks Carry?

Semi-trucks carry a variety of things that must be transported. Here are just some of them:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Boats
  • Dry goods
  • Refrigerated goods
  • Construction Equipment
  • Furniture
  • Building materials
  • Hazardous liquids and gases.

There are different kinds of semi-trucks for different kinds of cargo. For instance, a flatbed truck would typically haul large construction and other equipment. A tanker would carry liquids like petroleum and chemicals. Open, double-deck trailers transport new cars to market.

What Is the Stopping Distance for a Semi-Truck?

It should be no surprise that because of their larger size and heavier weight, semi-trucks take longer to stop than cars.

While it might take a standard car traveling at 65 miles per hour approximately 300 feet, or the length of a single football field, to stop, it can take a fully loaded semi-truck twice that long. In poor weather conditions where there is ice, snow, or rain on the road, it can take even longer.

Also, because of their heavy weight and large size, semi-trucks are not as easily maneuvered as cars. For these reasons, to avoid car accidents, it’s important that other drivers never cut in front of trucks and always give them the space they need.

How Many Semi-Trucks Are There in The Country?

The majority of goods in the U.S. are delivered by truck, making trucking a billion-dollar industry. There are approximately 2,000,000 tractor-trailers in the country, and they travel more than 1,000,000,000 miles transporting goods each year. One-third of these vehicles are registered in three states: Texas, Florida, and California. At any given moment, there are tens of thousands of these big rigs on Texas roadways. And every year they are involved in thousands of crashes on our busy highways. These accidents often involve serious injuries and tragic fatalities. It’s a sad fact that Texas consistently leads the nation in fatal truck and 18-wheeler accidents.

Getting Legal Advice from a Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been in a crash with a semi-truck, you may be wondering who is liable for your injuries. The answer to that question depends on the specifics of your accident.

In some cases, the truck’s driver may be at fault. Or it could be the trucking company if an improperly maintained vehicle caused the accident, for example. Sometimes other drivers on the road can be held liable. Perhaps someone dangerously cut in front of the truck and the truck swerved to avoid that vehicle and ran into you. Sometimes more than one party can be held liable. A skilled truck crash attorney can review your case and advise you.

Contact A Semi-Truck Accident Attorney for Help

If you’ve been in a wreck with a massive 18-wheeler, you may well have experienced serious injuries and extensive property damage.

Contact our experienced attorneys for help with your car accident claim. At the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant, our truck accident attorney have spent countless hours assisting people whose lives have been wrecked by truck accidents.

Call our seasoned Texas truck accident law firm at (713) 973-8888 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Attorney Terry Bryant

Attorney Terry BryantTerry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]

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