Trivia is always fun. Unusual trivia is an even greater blast. Some of the stuff I’m telling in this post you probably already know. Most of it, I hope not. My goal here is to bring a smile to your face with some strange, but true, facts about 18 wheelers. Let me know how I do at the end by leaving a comment!
Why do we call our 18 wheelers semis? Rumor has it it’s because of the trailer. As you all know, your trailer doesn’t have front wheels, so it can only go places when connected to your tractor. Hence, the name “semi-trailer.”
Semi-trailers are generally about 53 feet long, minus the cab. Add the cab and they’re about 70 to 80 feet long. The maximum load they can haul is 80,000 pounds. Unless you’re in Australia. Down under folk allow “road trains.” What’s a road train? A tractor with four trailers attached to it hauling upward of 300,000 pounds.
An 80,000 big rig weighs 20 to 30 times more than a car. That’s a huge difference! The Australian road train could weigh what? Seventy-five to 112.5 times a car. Three-hundred thousand pounds divided by 80,000 is 3.75 times 20 and 30. Yep! I did the math!
Truck engines weigh more than car engines, too. All-in-all, a truck engine is six times larger than a standard car engine. Truck engines also have 300 to 400 more horses under the hood, and they have 900 to 1,800 more feet/pound of torque.
Semi-truck engines also offer 800,000 more miles of life than car engines. They’re just built to last a lot longer! Maybe that’s because they are also designed to keep running, which keeps the oil flowing and parts lubricated. You don’t have to shut your engine down ever except to service it and change the oil.
This, by the way, is going to take 15 gallons or more. Yeah, they are oil beasts! But they need to be. Truck engines endure a lot of wear and tear, upwards of a 100,000 per year or more for long-haulers. Yeah, trucks are heavy drinkers, but they work hard, too!
Should your truck decide it’s hung over and it ain’t moving ANY further, you’ll have to call the “draggin wagon” after you let your “travel agent” know you’re out of commission. In other words, call your dispatcher first to report the break down and then call the tow truck! Or, if you have a nice travel agent, maybe he or she will call the draggin wagon for you!
So, you probably already know that it takes two football fields to stop these babies. Well, the 18 wheelers, not the road trains. I’m not doing any more math today! What you might not realize is it takes longer if you’re hauling on a smooth road. No resistance equals longer braking time!
What if you don’t have enough time to stop or your brakes fail? Well, a standard 18-wheel truck has numerous gears that you can downshift to slow down. The average rig has 10 forward drive gears and two reverse drive gears. Some rigs have nine, 13, 15 or 18 gears. It just depends on your manufacturer, and you can split high and low range gears if you’re driving an 18-gear cab.
What if you need to flip a u-turn? Forget it on U.S. roads! A big rig needs 55 feet to successfully flip a u-turn. The U.S. generally allots 12 feet per highway lane. You can’t flip u-turn unless you’re on at least a four-lane roadway without a center divider! The divider would definitely put a kink in things!
You might unintentionally begin flipping a u-turn if you jackknife. To officially jackknife your rig, you must complete a 45-degree angle between your tractor and your trailer. Not really something you want to accomplish! But still, who decided it had to be 45 degrees to call it a jackknife?
And where does this 45-degree angle occur? At the kingpin. The kingpin is the pin that connects the tractor and trailer. It’s surrounded by a greased metal plating.
The greased metal plating is what protects and the rig’s “fifth wheel.” The fifth wheel is located behind the cab. When attaching the tractor and trailer, the fifth wheel slides beneath the king pin’s metal plating and then locks into the king pin.
Did you know that truckers are supermodels? That’s right! We work it on the “cat walk”! The cat walk is the area behind your cab where you connect your air and ABS lines and your electrical Suzie’s. Show me some attitude as you sashay up those stairs to your cab’s cat walk!
Since we have cat walks, it would seem that most trucks would be registered in New York. You know, Fashion Week? Not so! One-third of all 18 wheelers are registered in Florida, Texas and California. Okay, well, there are plenty of divas in California, too, so I guess it makes sense!
Speaking of foreigners sorry, Californians, I’m just kidding! If you’re a trucker in Europe you can’t speed. No, seriously, you can’t! European rigs are fitted with “speed limiters.” These little devices prevent the rigs from going faster than 56 miles per hour.
If you’re in England, don’t even think about lighting up in your cab! That’s right! It’s illegal to smoke in your commercial vehicle. If you do, you’ll get fined. You might even have to appear in court! Geez! I know smoking is really bad for you, but come on!
Those are my funky facts. Again, let me know how I did. Did I teach you anything? If not, teach me! Leave some of your insane but true facts in the comments section. Until next time, over and out!
For more information on 18-wheel trucks, please see below:
- Caltrans: Weight Limitations Caltrans provides overall and per axle weight limitations in this link.
- Federal Highway Administration: Truck Fleet and Operations This FHA report provides well-rounded information about the trucking industry and truck classifications.
- Louisiana Department of Transportation: Fuel Economy and Heavy Truck Rear Axle Alignment Learn how rear axle alignment affects your fuel economy from the Louisiana DOT.
- Michigan Department of Transportation: Maximum Legal Truck Loading and Dimensions See what Michigan has to say about how big and how heavy your truck can be.
- United States Department of Labor: Motor Vehicle Safety This link gives OSHA’s commercial driver and motor safety report.
- Popular Mechanics: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Semi Trucks This slide show gives some interesting 18-wheeler facts
- Carabin Shaw, Attorneys at Law: Facts About 18 Wheeler Trucking attorneys Carabin Shaw provide some interesting stats about our beloved rigs.
- Stephen Boutrous LTD: 18-Wheeler Facts Another truck driving attorney provides knowledge about the rigs that we drive.