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How much does a semi-truck weigh?

Semi-trucks can weigh between 10,000 and 25,000 pounds on their own. They’re a lot heavier than they look–especially if you’ve ever seen one topple over due to high winds.

When attached to an empty trailer, a semi-truck can weigh up to 35,000 pounds. This is referred to as its unladen weight.

And a fully loaded semi-truck or big rig truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds - the maximum allowed by U.S. regulations. This is called its laden weight.

Why is this important to know?

Many drivers are very careless and cavalier when maneuvering around big rig trucks

If you cut one off and slow down suddenly, you’re asking to be flattened like a pancake.

How much does a semi-truck cab weigh?

On the low end, a semi-truck cab (the truck itself without a trailer) can weigh about 10,000 pounds – more than double what the average car weighs. So even without a trailer, these big rig trucks are heavy and cumbersome to maneuver.

However, big rig cabs can weigh up to 25,000 pounds without a trailer. The variance can come from compartments in the truck like the sleeping area, along with fuel tanks, and the number of gears the truck has.

How much does a semi-truck weigh in tons?

A semi-truck varies in weight depending on configuration and loads. When converted to tons, the estimated weights are:

  • Semi-truck without trailer - 5 tons to 12.5 tons
  • Semi-truck with empty trailer - 9 tons to 17.5 tons
  • Semi-truck with loaded trailer - 17 tons to 40 tons

How much does a big rig truck weigh when carrying a load or trailer?

A big rig, or semi-truck, attached to a trailer with a load can weigh over four times as much as the truck alone. A semi-truck carrying a load, or its laden weight, can weigh between 25,000 pounds up to 80,000 pounds. The weight is capped at 80,000 pounds by the United States Code (U.S.C. 127 is the specific code for this restriction).

How much weight can a semi-truck haul?

A semi-truck can haul up to 34,000 pounds if it's a two-axle truck, and a single-axle truck can haul up to 20,000 pounds. Again, the weight is also limited by the maximum 80,000 pounds gross weight according to vehicle code.

This is why you'll see weigh stations frequently when you're on road trips. It's important for truck drivers to know their weight when approaching certain roads or bridges that have weight restrictions.

How does weight affect maneuverability and braking?

The Association for the Work Truck Industry, or NTEA, states that an overloaded truck -- both in terms of gross weight limits and weight distribution -- has "dramatic effects" on steering, maneuverability, braking, and acceleration.

In fact, the higher the weight of the semi-truck, the higher the risk of fatality. And the risk of serious injury or death doesn't go up linearly--it goes up logarithmically. The more the truck weighs, injury and death risks more than double or triple.

This is important to know if you're ever involved in an accident with a semi-truck or big rig.

If you drive near or around the truck in a dangerous manner, you may hold partial or full liability if an accident were to occur. In California, these come down to its comparative negligence laws.

On the other hand, truck drivers are responsible for exercising greater care in driving, especially when hauling heavy loads. A big rig's weight can be extremely dangerous for the truck driver and surrounding motorists.

If a truck driver fails to take reasonable care with respect to the loads they're carrying, the drivers and the companies they work for are liable for damages in an accident.

What are runaway truck ramps?

Runaway truck ramps, or escape ramps, are a stretch of road that helps trucks with faulty brakes or other mechanical failures come to a safe stop.

Runaway ramps or escape ramps are often made of gravel or sand to help slow down trucks, and are on a grade so that gravity aids in slowing the vehicle even more.

Are there fees for using a runaway truck ramp?

Despite the myths surrounding use of these ramps, there is typically no fee for using a runaway or escape ramp for semi-trucks.

The fees associated with using an escape ramp come in the form of towing fees, which can be very hefty given the size and weight of semi-trucks.

The risk of not using a runaway or escape ramp is much greater than the alternative. Semi-truck accidents often involve multiple vehicles and can result in serious injuries or death.

What are semi-truck weigh stations?

Because of the restrictions on big rig or semi-truck weight, they are often weighed at weigh stations that are positioned along long stretches of road. A semi-truck weigh station is a checkpoint where there is a weight scale, an office or house, and Department of Transportation officials.

These stations are found as permanent fixtures on certain roads, but portable weight scales can also mean moving stations as needed.

Weigh stations are critical for making sure that truck loads stay with safety ranges. A semi-truck weight that exceeds regulations for certain bridges or roads can cause damage or destruction and put other motorists at risk.

Some states also calculate taxes on goods being transported based on their weight.

If a semi-truck weighs more than 10,000 pounds, it is required to stop at a weigh station.

Hiring a lawyer after a big rig semi-truck accident

If you've been involved in a semi-truck or big rig accident, you'll want to hire a truck accident lawyer immediately. Whether you were the driver or the truck or a motorist struck by a truck, these types of accidents can be complicated and nuanced.

As a truck driver, you have a right to driving a vehicle that is safely maintained by your company and mechanics that work on the truck.

If you've been struck by a truck driver, the company that owns or contracted the semi-truck can be liable your damages and injuries.

Whether you think you're at fault for a semi-truck accident or not, you can always contact us for a free consultation at 888-991-7859. Or visit us at 1147 South Hope Street in Los Angeles. We're the building with L.A.'s largest Kobe Bryant mural on the side of the building.

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