How Much Does A Semi Weigh?


August 31, 2020 / Truck Accidents

If you’re wondering how much does a semi weigh, then the answer depends on whether or not the truck is pulling a trailer and how much cargo is in it.

  • A fully loaded tractor trailer typically weighs about 80,000 pounds.
  • A semi pulling an empty trailer weighs roughly 35,000 pounds.
  • Loaded tractor trailers can take 20% – 40% more distance to stop than cars do – about the length of two football fields.
  • 4,136 people died in U.S. large truck accidents in 2018, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

When a car or motorcycle collides with a semi-truck, passengers in the smaller vehicle typically sustain the most catastrophic injuries. In fact, big truck accidents often result in fatalities. That’s because a semi-truck with a fully loaded trailer weighing 80,000 pounds crumples passenger cars, which typically weigh about 2,000 pounds. A semi carries an an immense amount of force when it’s barreling down the road at 60 miles per hour.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident, then you know all too well the suffering and pain that result. The loss and devastation are made even worse if the driver or truck manufacturer was negligent. A skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer can explain your legal rights and discuss whether you may be entitled to financial compensation. At Stephenson Rife, we’ve represented many clients in truck accident cases and successfully secured large payouts. To talk to a lawyer after a truck accident, call us for a free initial consultation at 317-680-2501.

How heavy is a semi tractor?

As we said, the weight of a semi fluctuates, depending on whether its trailer is full of cargo. A semi pulling an empty trailer weighs roughly 35,000 pounds, whereas a big rig with a fully loaded trailer weighs about 80,000 pounds. Either way, these trucks are much bigger and heavier than a typical passenger car. And that’s why these wrecks are so deadly.

Another question that’s just as important is “how long does it take a semi to stop?” Because of their enormous size, semi-trucks have a long braking distance. It typically takes the length of two football fields for a big rig to come to a complete stop after the brakes are applied. This is 20% – 40% more roadway than it takes a car to stop. The distance can be even greater on wet or slippery roads or if the truck brakes are poorly maintained. That’s why trucks are so dangerous when they come upon a stopped or stalled vehicle – they often cannot stop in time to avoid a collision.

How much does an 18-wheeler weigh compared to a motorcycle?

Motorcycles fare even worse than cars do when they are involved in a crash with a truck. That’s because the typical motorcycle weighs about 400 pounds. When you compare 400 pounds with 80,000 pounds, it’s not hard to see why motorcyclists often suffer catastrophic injury or death when they are hit by a large truck. Also, motorcycles are smaller and harder for truck drivers to see, particularly in a rearview or side mirror, and trucks sometimes turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle, causing it to swerve, crash or become airborne.

Common causes of truck accidents

Too often truck accidents are caused by the negligence of a driver, trucking company or truck manufacturer. With good driving habits and attention to safety, big truck accidents can be avoided. Here are some of the most common causes of truck accidents:

  • Poorly maintained brakes
  • Driver inexperience
  • Hazardous road conditions
  • Mechanical or tire failure
  • Speeding, tailgating or unsafe lane changing
  • Intoxication/alcohol or drug misuse by driver
  • Driving while texting/talking on a cell phone
  • Inadequate lighting or road signage
  • Driver fatigue or falling asleep
  • Rain, snow, wind or inclement weather.

One or more of these elements can combine to create a deadly crash. In many truck accident lawsuits, there are multiple defendants, including the driver, trucking company and truck manufacturer. More than one party can be held liable for the injury or death of an innocent motorist or pedestrian.

Of the 4,136 people who died in U.S. large truck accidents in 2018, roughly 16% of these were truck occupants, 67% were occupants of cars or other passenger vehicles, and 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists, according to IIHS and HLDI.

What kind of damages can I sue for in a truck accident?

There are several types of damages you can sue for if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident. Some of these are more obvious than others. Damages can include:

  • Past, present and future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Property damage
  • Loss of consortium (claim filed by a spouse)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Wrongful death.

A skilled and experienced truck injury lawyer can review your case, gather evidence, interview witnesses and determine which damages you may be entitled to.

Things you should do immediately after a truck accident

If you or a loved one is injured in an accident with a large truck, here is a list of things you should do (if you are able to) immediately after the crash:

  • Call 911 and request that police and emergency medical personnel come to the scene.
  • Get immediate medical treatment for any injuries.
  • Exchange license and vehicle information with the other driver.
  • Say as little as possible to the other driver, and never discuss fault or blame for the accident.
  • If witnesses are present, get their names and contact info.
  • If you are able, use your cell phone to take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene.
  • Do not sign any paperwork offered by the other driver, trucking company or insurance company representatives.
  • Contact a truck accident attorney to represent you.

Your safety and well-being are the most important and immediate priorities after a truck accident. Allow yourself to be treated by first responders and emergency room doctors if needed.

Contact a skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Stephenson Rife has helped many clients sue trucking companies and manufacturers and secure significant payouts. You do not have to face this tragedy alone. We are here to help. Call us today at 317-680-2501 for a free initial consultation about your case.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Attorney Mike StephensonMike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, and fire, just to name a few. He also works extensively in construction accidents. [ Attorney Bio ]

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