How Much Does a Semi-truck Weigh?

You would be forgiven if you looked at a semi or tractor-trailer and marveled at the sheer size and power of such vehicles. These monstrous moving machines are critical to transporting goods across the country. They can move everything from consumer goods and wares to cars and heavy farm machinery.

To move such large loads at up to highway speeds, semi-trucks and tractor-trailers must have powerful engines and strong frames. All of this adds to the weight of these vehicles.

Semi-truck Weight Explained

Before describing how much a semi-truck weighs, it is helpful to know some terminology. A truck’s unladen weight refers to the weight of the vehicle without any load. It measures just the weight of the equipment. According to J.D. Power, a semi-tractor’s unladen weight may be anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds.

J.D. Power also claims that a 53-foot-long trailer weighs approximately 10,000 pounds. Tractors with sleeper cabs or more powerful engines will have a heavier unladen weight. Thus, a common tractor-trailer combo can have an unladen weight of between 20,000 and 35,000 pounds.

The laden weight describes how heavy the vehicle is when it is fully loaded. This includes fuel, occupants, and cargo. The laden weight of semis varies greatly depending on the type of cargo being transported and will change as fuel is consumed. 

Semi-trucks of any size should generally not have a laden weight that exceeds 80,000 pounds unless they have special permits to carry more. 

Finally, a vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) represents the maximum laden weight that the truck can safely handle. Some trucks have a GVWR that exceeds 80,000 pounds, even though the truck may not be legally permitted to have a laden weight that exceeds 80,000 pounds.

Why Semi-truck Weight Matters

Simple scientific principles state that a large, heavy vehicle moving at speed has a considerable amount of energy as compared to a lightweight stationary object. In a crash, trucks have an immense amount of energy that gets transferred to the other object or vehicle that it strikes.

Therefore, the laden weight of a truck matters because it helps predict the severity of injuries expected in a tractor-trailer crash. The greater the laden weight of the truck, the more energy it has to transfer in a collision. And the more energy the truck has to transfer, the more severe the injuries that can be anticipated. 

A vehicle as large and as heavy as an 80,000-pound semi-truck moving at 65 miles per hour can take considerable time and distance to come to a stop. Utah’s Department of Transportation estimates a fully laden tractor-trailer can take as long as 525 feet to stop while traveling 65 miles per hour.

How Semi-trucks Are Weighed

Determining the weight of any truck is not difficult. Weigh stations along the highway and at some truck stops determine the weight of a truck in much the same way a bathroom scale tells you your weight. As the truck rests on or drives over the weight sensor, the sensor calculates how heavy the load is. 

A Final Word About Semi-truck Weight

A semi-truck’s weight can have a profound impact on the way that truck handles on the road. Therefore, ensuring that a truck stays below a laden weight of 80,000 pounds and is loaded evenly is essential to helping prevent trucking accidents. 

This responsibility falls on the truck’s driver, the company loading the truck, and the trucking company.

Contact Our Truck Accident Law Firm in Texas

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth or Dallas and need legal help, contact our truck accident lawyers at Anderson Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.

Fort Worth Office
1310 W El Paso St, Fort Worth, TX 76102, United States
(817) 294-1900

Dallas Office
408 W Eighth St Suite 202, Dallas, TX 75208, United States
(214) 327-8000