20 Surprising Things Most People Don’t Know About Semi Trucks

11. SEMI TRUCKS CAN COST UP TO $200,000

All the engineering and power which go into making a great semi truck doesn’t come cheap. Not many people can afford to buy a semi to work as a freelance trucker, which is why so many people who work in the trucking industry are signed up to work for logistics companies.

Brand new big rigs will cost a minimum of around $80,000 but can be much more expensive, up to $200,000 for the top-of-the-range trucks.

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the often prohibitively high cost of insurance for truck drivers and the high fuel costs involved in operating an 18-wheeler.

12. TRUCK DRIVING IS ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS JOBS

Driving commercial trucks isn’t just expensive if you decide to go down the freelance route, it is also one of the most dangerous professions out there, regardless of whether the driver is working for themselves or for a larger company. In 2017, 852 truckers lost their lives in road accidents while they were at work. It isn’t just the risk of serious injury from collisions which threaten the health of truckers, their sedentary lifestyle and tendency to eat junk food means that they are also more likely to be obese, and suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and other serious diseases.

13. TAKES TWO FOOTBALL FIELDS FOR A SEMI TO COME TO A STOP

Heavy vehicles aren’t just tricky to handle, they also carry a great deal of forward momentum which makes coming to a sudden halt difficult and dangerous, even with the mandatory ABS brakes rule.

A fully-loaded semi truck, weighing in at 80,000 pounds, and traveling at 65mph will take 525 feet to come to a complete stop – that’s the equivalent of the length of two football fields, and twice the distance it takes cars to come to a halt.

Drivers should remember that next time they are driving near a semi truck on the highway or interstate, and make sure that they give truckers the room that they need to stop safely.

14. SEMI TRUCKS ARE FITTED WITH SPEED LIMITERS

As well as ABS brakes being mandatory on trucks built after 1997, many 18-wheelers are also fitted with speed limiters, which makes it impossible for the drivers to go over the speed limit, even accidentally.

These speed limiters are mandatory on trucks in Europe but are not yet enforced across the US.

The domestic trucking industry is in favor of using these limiters, which would stop commercial vehicles going over 65mph, as they have been proven to help keep their drivers and other road users safe, and ensure that truckers don’t get into trouble with the law for speeding.

15. ONLY 6% OF TRUCKERS ARE WOMEN

A lot of professions which were traditionally dominated by men are becoming more gender-balanced, but trucking isn’t one of them. Of the 3.5 million truckers working in the US, just 6% of them are women, and this has only increased by 1.5% in the last 15 years. There’s no physical reason why women can’t become truckers – they are perfectly capable of managing even the largest 18-wheelers – and yet the trucking industry is having trouble persuading more women that driving semi trucks is the right career for them. Trucking is a well-paying job, but women still don’t like being away from home for days or weeks at a time.

16. MANY SEMI DRIVERS ALSO LIVE IN THEIR TRUCKS

The US is a big country, even bigger when you take cross-border journeys to Canada and Mexico into consideration. Driving a truck from the east coast to the west coast could take several days, and drivers need to make sure their journey is as efficient as possible. That means sleeping only when they are legally required to, and keep moving the rest of the time. The best way to save time when it comes to resting up is to sleep in your vehicle at truck stops up and down the country. Modern trucks can actually be quite luxurious, with proper beds, kitchenettes, and even a small bathroom.

17. WHY ARE THEY CALLED SEMI TRUCKS?

Considering that semi trucks are so big – up to 61 ft in length for some of the larger models – “semi” doesn’t seem a very appropriate name for them.

Not many people know where the name semi truck comes from, and even some truckers don’t know from where the term actually originates.

The name “semi truck” actually comes from the type of trailers these trucks tow all over the country, which are semi-trailers in the sense that they only have wheels at one end, and need to rest on the chassis of the cab unit at the other end before the truck can get underway.

18. SEMI TRUCKS REQUIRE SPECIAL DRIVING SKILLS

Many motorists are under the impression that driving a semi truck is just like driving their regular car, only on a larger scale. While there are similarities – both cars and trucks have steering wheels, brakes, and transmission sticks – there are too many differences to allow motorists without the proper training to just jump into the driving seat and start towing loads all over the US. Before you can start work as a trucker, you need to undergo proper training, both in the classroom and behind the wheel with an instructor in tow, and then pass a driving test to get your hands on a commercial driver’s license.

19. RESPONSIBLE FOR TRANSPORTING MAJORITY OF GOODS IN US

To some people, the idea of transporting goods by semi truck probably seems old fashioned. A very 20th century way of doing things in this era of electric vehicles and self-driving cars. And yet the logistics industry has simply not been able to find an alternative to semi trucks which works as well or as efficiently. In 2017, trucks transported nearly 70% of domestic freight, as well as the majority of imports from both Canada and Mexico. Truck freight amounted to an impressive $676.2 billion in 2016, with semi trucks and other commercial vehicles transporting a whopping 10 billion tons of freight that year.

20. SEMI TRUCKS ARE GAS GUZZLERS

We may still rely on semi trucks to get goods from A to B, but in some respects, these valuable vehicles are a little out of date.

In an era when more and more consumers are turning to hybrids and even electric cars for their own vehicle, semi trucks have continued to unapologetically guzzle gas.

Semi trucks run on diesel, which is at least a little better for the environment than gasoline, but their fuel economy figures would make an environmentalist weep. Big rigs make up just 7% of the vehicles on America’s highways, and yet they consume 25% of the country’s oil.

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