How Much Does a Semi-Truck Weigh?
When you place a small compact car next to a semi-truck, it is quite clearly evident that the semi-truck is larger and heavier than the car. Be that as it may, most drivers do not appreciate how much heavier these monstrous vehicles can be compared to their everyday rides. That means they may also not fully appreciate the dangers these vehicles present.
Semi-trucks weigh at least three times as much as a large passenger car, and a fully loaded tractor-trailer can be as much as twenty times as heavy as the average vehicle. Such a significant disparity in weight means that trucks do not handle as nimbly as passenger cars, and they can inflict much more significant damage in the event of a collision.
Average Weights of Cars and Semi-Trucks
Passenger cars and other similar vehicles can weigh anywhere between 2,500 pounds and 6,000 pounds. A small compact car would come in at the low end of that scale, often around the minimum of 2,500 pounds. Larger passenger cars can weigh upwards of 4,000 pounds or more, and large SUVs tip the scales at over 6,000 pounds.
In any case, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average car on the road weighs approximately 4,100 pounds. In contrast, even an empty semi-truck can weigh anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 pounds, depending on the size of its cab and engine. If it is pulling a trailer, that trailer will, of course, add additional weight.
According to federal authorities, the maximum combined weight allowed for a truck and trailer in the United States is 80,000 pounds. For context, that means a fully loaded tractor-trailer combination truck weighs about as much as an empty railroad boxcar, a mobile home, or seven elephants.
Implications of a Semi-Truck’s Weight
The size and weight of most semi-trucks, whether pulling a loaded trailer or not, involve two implications of which drivers should be aware:
Trucks Take Longer To Stop in an Emergency
A car traveling at approximately 60 miles an hour will need at least about 140 feet to come to a complete stop, considering the driver’s reaction time and the vehicle’s performance. Some estimates suggest heavier cars may need as much as 300 feet to stop safely.
In contrast, a semi-truck traveling at 65 miles per hour can take up to 525 feet to come to a stop, a distance that is, on average, approximately 40 percent longer than it is for a car. Considering that an NFL football field is about 300 feet long, it takes a truck traveling at highway speed about a football field and a half to come to a stop.
Semis Cause More Damage in the Event of a Crash
In addition, because of its greater weight, a semi-truck has more energy to transfer in the event of a crash. That means there is a greater likelihood that you or a loved one will suffer injury or death in a crash involving a semi-truck, even if the circumstances of the collision would suggest otherwise if only cars were involved.
Semi-Trucks Are Heavy, Dangerous Machines
Drivers should remain aware of the considerable weight of semi-trucks whenever they encounter them on the road. Give yourself plenty of distance, especially on the highway or when the truck is pulling a trailer. Respecting the power and size of these vehicles can help prevent a severe or fatal crash involving you or your loved one.