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Semi Trucks: Numbers You Never Knew! (22 Questions Answered)

The trucking industry is crucial to the US economy. Like the taxes that we pay to the government, semi trucks are also the lifeblood of a country.

The majority of industries rely on the products shipped by a semi truck. These products include fuel, food, healthcare, construction supplies, and a lot more. 

Without semi trucks, any state would be in so much trouble.

If you want to be part of the trucking industry, the following facts and statistics might interest you. 

How Long have Semi Trucks been Around?

Semi trucks have been around for 123 years. It was first invented in 1898 by Alexander Winton when he felt the need to have a larger vehicle to transport his manufactured cars across the US. He started selling semi trucks in 1899, but it took him a while to be noticed by other car manufacturers.

Five years later, the trucking industry had only sold 700 semi trucks. But it increased in 1914 with 25,000 units sold.

Eventually, Alexander Winton became successful and started manufacturing semi trucks for other carmakers and companies. Back then, semi trucks were only two-wheeled.

How Far can Semi Trucks Drive?

In general, a semi truck with a full tank of 300 gallons and a fuel consumption rate of mpg of 7, can drive up to 2,100 miles. However, if we consider the 11-hour driving limit imposed by FMCSA, say a driver can travel 64 miles per hour, a truck can drive a maximum of 715 miles.

But realistically speaking, no driver can drive 11-hours straight. Any driver needs at least two hours to cater personal necessities and for unloading or loading of cargo. 

Thus, it makes sense if we conclude that a truck driver can drive at least eight hours a day. As such, a driver can go for about 500 miles for the entire shift.

How Much can Semi Trucks Pull?

In general, semi trucks can pull between 20,000 to 80,000 lbs. However, the majority of semi trucks in the US can carry a maximum of 42,000 lbs. The world’s strongest semi truck, the Volvo FH16 700, can pull a maximum of 80,000 lbs. This truck is specifically made for complex haulage assignments.

How Much do Semi Truck Brake Drums Weigh?

In general, semi truck brake drums weigh between 90 to 130 lbs. It’s one of the heaviest components of a semi truck. Being made from metal, it’s ordinarily heavy, no matter how small it may look. Lighter brake drums for example 99 lbs., can save up to 100 lbs of weight in a semi truck.

The Federal laws limited the weight of a truck to about 80,000 lbs., loaded or not. Hence, the need to know the weight of larger components of your truck.

If you go beyond the limit, you will be penalized as it may cause damage to the highways and bridges.

How Much do Semi Truck Tire Chains Weigh?

In general, semi truck tire chains weigh approximately 1000lbs for a set of 6 chains. A semi truck typically uses 6 tire chains however it could be more. The more chains a vehicle has, the heavier it would be. If your state regulations permit, use snow socks as they are more lightweight than chains.

However, tire chains are more helpful when hauling large cargo on a snowy road. As you lose traction while driving in the winter months, these chains can cut precipitation build-up.

How Old can your Semi Truck be?

In general, semi trucks that are considered good can be as old as 10 to 15 years. However, proper care and maintenance can extend its life up to 20 years. Other factors that may prolong the life of a semi truck include driving performance, type of cargo hauled, miles driven, and engine used.

Most seasoned truckers will agree that Kenworth and Peterbilt are the most durable. 

Besides being made in quality material, it has the most vital PACCAR engine. PACCAR engines are, by far, one of the best engines available in the market.

As such, it’s noteworthy to consider this engine if you wish to prolong the life of your truck.

How Many Wheels do Semi Trucks have?

There are semi trucks that have 4, 6, and 8 wheels fitted on the tractor, depending on the number of axles it has. A Class 8 semi truck with a 6×4 drivetrain will have 10 wheels in total i.e. 2 front steering wheels, and double wheels on either side of the 2 tandem axles at the rear of the tractor.

How Much Weight can the Top Bunk in a Semi Truck Hold?

In general, the top bunk in a semi truck can hold between 165 to 400 lbs. However, maximum bunk capabilities depend on the material it is built from. For instance, a wood bunk bed with twin and full top bunk can hold 165 to 400 lbs. In contrast, a metal bunk has a weight limit of 200 to 220 lbs.

How Much Sand can a Semi Truck Carry?

In general, a medium and heavy-duty truck can carry from 10 to 16 cubic yards of sand. In comparison, a light-duty truck can carry a maximum of 10 cubic yards of sand. These figures are applicable to dry sand only will vary for wet sands. The size of a truck determines how much sand it can carry.

How Many Cars can a Semi Truck Carry?

In general, an American semi truck hauler can fit 5 to 0 cars. A 9-car hauler has 44”6 length and 102 inches width. However, if a truck is used for hauling, you can pull at least 11 cars at once. The number of cars a truck can carry will depend on the truck classification.

How Far can Electric Semi Truck Go?

In general, electric semi trucks manufactured from 2011 to 2016 can only go 100 miles on a charge. However, newer electric trucks available in the market are capable of about 250 to 350 miles. Currently, Tesla has the most advanced electric semi truck and can go for more than 500 miles on a charge.

Moreover, Volvo is the earliest producer of electric semi trucks in the industry. It is also the most in-demand brand, with Volvo VNR as the best-seller. 

How Fast can a Semi Truck Accelerate?

In general, an average size semi truck can accelerate for about 500 feet at 37 mph. In contrast, medium and heavy truck is capable of 500 feet at 31 mph, respectively. As expected, a lighter semi truck can accelerate faster than a heavy-duty truck over a given distance.

How Fast can a Semi Truck Stop?

In general, a fully loaded trailer takes 300 feet at 60mph to stop. Meanwhile, empty trucks take longer because of less traction and poor braking. Nearby vehicles should maintain a safe leading distance of at least 6 to 8 seconds from a semi truck to mitigate being hit when a semi truck brakes.

Vehicles and pedestrians should strive to maintain a distance for road safety. The 6 to 8 seconds proper distance have to be doubled in extreme weather conditions.

How Many Miles can a Semi Trunk go on one Tank of Gas?

In general, the majority of semi trucks have 200 to 300 gallon capacity for 6 to 8 mpg fuel consumption. An average semi truck can fill up to 300 gallons and run up to 2,100 miles on a full tank. Long haul tractors have a full tank capacity of 250 and can go as far as 3,000 miles.

How Many Pennies can Fit in a Semi Truck?

In general, you can only fit up to 7 million pennies in a semi truck. This figure is for a Class 8 trailer weighing 47,000 lbs. Take note that the weight of a full-loaded semi truck should not go beyond 80,000 lbs. So legally speaking, 7 million pennies is just enough for a long-haul truck.

If you would disregard the law, at least 255 million can fit the same truck. But going beyond 80,000 lbs. is not safe. The semi truck will likely collapse, and it may damage roads and bridges.

How Many Semi Trucks are in the US?

According to the American Trucking Association, the US has around 36.9 million registered trucks for agricultural and business purposes. More than two million from this figure are trailers. While 3.91 million are class 8 trucks that are straight trucks or tractors. 

You can find more data here at the American Trucking Association.

How Many Semi Trucks are Sold each year?

There are approximately 100,000 trucks that are consistently sold in the US every year. Classes 3, 7, and 8 are the most in-demand, with Freightliner and Volvo as the best-sellers. These statistics have been consistent as to the number of units sold from 2009 to 2019.

Unfortunately, the sales decreased by more than 100,000 units in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More sales declines are likewise expected this year for the same reason.

How Many Semi Trucks are on the Road?

There are approximately 2 million semi trucks that are on the road every day in the U.S. This figure represents trucks that are used for both commercial and personal use. The top 3 most congested areas for trucks in the US are Atlanta, Washington, and Chicago.

You can check the stats out here according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

How Many Electric Semi Trucks are on the Road?

There are approximately 2,000 electric semi trucks are on the U.S. road today. The number is few as the electric trucking industry is still in its infancy stage. It is anticipated that these numbers will increase to over 54,000 in 2025.

You can check out the most recent statistics for more information.

Interestingly, Volvo, the most popular electric truck producer, is committed to producing more electric truck units, especially Class 8 trucks. So the trucking industry is expecting quality electric vehicles shortly.

How Many Semi Trucks does Walmart have?

Walmart owns more than 60,000 trailers and 6,000 tractors to cater to its 150 distribution centers. It is among the most prominent companies to own the most number of semi trucks. With over 9,000 truck drivers, they are also tagged as one of the safest private fleets across the US.

How Long can you Finance a New Semi Truck?

In general, it will take you 2 to 8 years to finance a new semi truck. This time frame is the usual loan term given by most bank institutions for truck loans. But of course, the downpayment, interest rate, and truck model are crucial in determining your financial capabilities.

How Tall do you have to be to Drive a Semi Truck?

There are no requirements for how tall you have to be to drive a semi truck. Anyone can be a driver so long as one can meet physical fitness and pass other requirements. But to give you an idea, there are 4’11 tall ladies working as semi-truck drivers, whilst the tallest driver can be 7”.

Driving accessories such as seat boosters, cushions, and pedal extenders will make the driving experience easier and more fun for short people.

How Much Are Volvo Semi Trucks?