Anyone who has ever passed a semi-truck knows they are huge. Oftentimes, you can feel or hear one approaching from yards away. Without a doubt, these are some of the biggest vehicles you might encounter – which makes them especially dangerous in a collision.

So just how big are these trucks? How much do they weigh? And what happens if you are hit by one? This post will answer these questions and more. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to semi-trucks and truck accidents, you’ve found it. 

How Much Does a Semi-truck Weigh Without a Trailer?

So how much does a semi-truck weigh? This is a more complicated question than one might think. The term “semi-tractor” refers to the part of the vehicle that contains the engine. This piece alone weighs around 25,000 pounds. 

In contrast, the typical car weighs between four and five thousand pounds.

With the trailer attached and a full haul, a semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds before it reaches the federal weight limit for interstate highways. States, counties, and cities have their own regulatory guidelines that may allow for even more weight. But 80,000 is the accepted standard. 

How much does a semi-truck weigh in tons? 80,000 pounds is equal to forty tons, while 25,000 pounds is 12.5 tons. 

How Is Semi-Truck Weight Monitored?

Semi-truck weights are monitored carefully for several reasons. Of course, the primary motive is to allow for safe travel. But states also like to know the weight of semi-trucks because they collect taxes based on the weight of goods that are transported. 

When you’re traveling along the interstate, odds are you will pass a weigh station or two. In Florida alone, there are currently 41 truck scales and weigh stations littered throughout the state. 

These scales calculate the weight of a semi-truck in two ways:

  1. Gross weight – the combined weight of every axle
  2. Axle weight – the amount of weight being carried by each axle

Because these stations take a lot of pressure, they’re typically made of concrete, steel, or a combination of the two. 

What Kinds of Cargo Do Semi-Trucks Carry?

Now you know that semi-trucks are heavy, that was probably a given. So what exactly are these vehicles carrying that amounts to so much weight? Typically, a semi-truck is carrying goods such as:

  • Building materials
  • Dry goods
  • Vehicles
  • Boats
  • Construction equipment
  • Furniture
  • Hazardous gasses or liquids

Of course, the extreme weight of the cargo comes down to how much, rather than what is carried. 

How Dangerous Are Semi-Trucks?

As you can see, semi-trucks are large, heavy, and prone to carrying hazardous materials. This means that they can be especially deadly in a collision. In fact, about 5,000 people die in the United States each year because of truck accidents. 

Because traditional cars are dwarfed by the standard semi-truck, car occupants are very vulnerable in these collisions. Plus, large trucks take longer to slow down. An otherwise minor mistake can become catastrophic when a semi-truck is involved.

When Do I Need an Attorney?

Now, you know that semi-trucks are big, heavy, and dangerous. So what should you do after an accident?

The answer to this question depends on the severity of the crash and whether there were any injuries. If you face mounting medical bills, time away from work, hefty car repairs, and other unexpected expenses, it’s worth calling an attorney. In cases where the semi-truck driver was at fault, you may be entitled to pursue compensation.