You see semi trucks everywhere, but you probably do not spend much time thinking about them.
They drive a huge segment of the U.S. economy. They also affect highway safety in many ways that you might not fully appreciate.
Here are four facts you probably do not know about semi trucks.
1. Semi Trucks Play a Vital Role in the U.S. Economy
Trains, airplanes, and cargo ships carry massive amounts of cargo. But semi trucks carry the vast majority of freight in the U.S. Nearly 73% of freight in the U.S. travels by semi truck transport.
This makes sense. Even cargo that travels part of its journey in a train, airplane, or cargo ship has to travel by truck to or from the shipping port.
As a result, trucking companies make over $730 billion in gross freight revenues. This represents 80.4% of all of the money spent on freight transportation.
The U.S. has almost 38 million registered semi trucks. These trucks consume over 45 billion gallons of fuel and travel 300 million miles every year.
2. Semi Trucks Are Big
Federal law limits the gross weight of semi trucks to 80,000 pounds. This truck and trailer account for about half this weight, leaving 40,000 pounds in cargo for a typical, fully-loaded semi truck.
Federal law allows states to permit oversize loads. As a result, some states allow fully-loaded semi trucks to weigh over 100,000 pounds. For example, Florida allows gross weights up to 199,000 pounds if the trucking company secures an oversize load permit.
Most states structure their weight limits based on the number of axles and the number of wheels per axle. Semi trucks earned the name 18-wheelers because they have a steering axle with two tires and four tandem axles with four tires each.
3. Semi Trucks Cause a Lot of Unique Accidents
Underrun accidents happen when a vehicle goes under the back or side of a trailer during a truck accident. This can often cause the roof of the smaller vehicle to collapse or even shear off.
Blind Spot Accidents
Passenger vehicles have blind spots. For drivers, you can usually see into the blind spots by turning your head.
Trucks have massive blind spots. Because of the vehicle shape, truck drivers cannot see into those blind spots directly. Instead, they need to use mirrors to see down both sides of the trailer. They also have blind spots behind the trailer and in front of the tractor.
Blind spot accidents happen when the truck maneuvers while a vehicle sits in one of its blind spots.
Passenger vehicles can experience rollover accidents, but not with the frequency of trucks. Some causes of semi truck rollover accidents include:
- Taking a curve too quickly
- Banked roads
- High winds
- Shifting loads
Because of the height of the trailer, a fully loaded semi truck has a high center of gravity. Under any of these circumstances, the semi truck can roll over, crushing adjacent cars and blocking traffic.
4. Trucking Companies Carry Large Insurance Policies for Truck Accidents
Semi trucks do not get into accidents with the same frequency as passenger vehicles. But when they do, they can cause massive property damage, severe injuries, and toxic spills.
For these reasons, the U.S. government requires motor carriers to carry insurance and bonds of at least $750,000. Depending on the size of the trucks and the cargo carried, motor carriers may need to carry as much as $5,000,000 in insurance and bonds.
But if you ever get into a truck accident, knowing that trucking companies must have these resources can provide you with some comfort.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer if You Need Help After an Accident
Truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries, and you might need substantial compensation to care for your injuries. Contact a truck accident lawyer for help exploring your legal rights after your accident. You may be able to secure compensation through an insurance claim and/or a lawsuit.