20 Surprising Facts Most People Don't Know About Semi Trucks [Part 1]

Check out the list below for some surprising facts that most people don't know about semi-trucks.When it comes to what people know about semi-trucks and the lifestyles of the truckers who drive them, most people have got the bulk of their information from the movies. However, films are not always exactly true to life and give viewers a rather inaccurate idea of what life on the big rigs is all about.

If you want to know amazing and intriguing facts about semi-trucks, try talking to a trucker - or check out the list below. These are truly impressive pieces of equipment, capable of covering huge distances over a long career on the road. Not only that, but many serve as temporary homes for their drivers, who may spend days or even weeks away from home.

And if you've never thought about trucks before, now is a good time to think about how different your life would be without their national and even international distribution network, bringing food and other goods from the other side of the country to your local store. Without trucks, our grocery store shelves would be empty!

  • Fact #1: The Engine Can Last For One A Million Miles

Most cars can drive an average of about 200,000 miles before they need serious maintenance on the engine and other parts. For most drivers, this is equivalent to about 11 years of driving. For truckers, however, 200,000 miles will be covered in just a couple of years, so truck engines are designed to be stronger and more durable and last much longer. In fact, the engines in the new semi-trucks can last up to a million miles, which is a serious number for the truckers who work on these 18-wheelers.

  • Fact #2: Semi Trucks Have Up To 18 Gears

As we've heard before, there are some significant differences between driving a passenger car and a semi-truck, even if the basic engineering is the same. Perhaps the biggest difference is in the transmission. While most cars in the U.S. have automatic transmissions, semi-trucks have manuals, and some large models can have up to 18 gears. It can take a lot of practice to get used to operating all these different gears, especially since some trucks have more than one lever, and to learn to understand when it is best to use each gear offered.

  • Fact #3: Semis Were Initially Created To Transport Cars

In the early days of semi-trucks, no one saw their potential for transporting goods around the country. Those first truck cabs were designed to transport cars from the manufacturing plant to the dealership or local garage, and only later did some bright spark realize that other loads could be transported in exactly the same way. Modern car carriers still use the same truck cab, but they are now capable of transporting many more cars at a time, all of them apparently precariously balanced on a specially designed trailer section.

  • Fact #4: Most Trucks Registered In Three States

Semi-trucks travel long distances during their journey, traveling from coast to coast and from border to border. Therefore, we can expect these trucks to be registered all over the country, since there is no one place where they logically begin their journey. And yet, the vast majority of U.S. semi-trucks are registered in just three states: Florida, California, and Texas. In 2015, more than 14 million trucks were registered in California, while nearly 13 million were registered in Texas and 7.7 million in Florida.

  • Fact #5: Semi Trucks Drive 140 Billion Miles Each Year

As you can see from the number of trucks registered in just three states, there are plenty of 18-wheelers driving on American highways and interstates, as well as in our cities and towns. In fact, in 2015, there were 140 million trucks registered in states across the country, each making weekly long-distance trips. Thus, trucks travel a huge number of miles each year: 140 billion miles, to be exact. It has been estimated that the U.S. semi-truck fleet travels an average of 140 billion miles annually on domestic trucking alone.

  • Fact #6: Each Semi Drives An Average Of 45,000 Miles Peach Year

But how many of those 140 billion miles does each trucker drive himself? The U.S. trucking workforce is thought to consist of about 3.5 million drivers (although this figure does not include all the mechanics who keep the trucks in good condition and the valuable administrative staff who keep the loads moving. So 3.5 million drivers and 140 billion miles driven means that each truck driver drives an average of 45,000 miles per year. Some, of course, drive well over 45,000 miles, depending on which routes they choose, while others may prefer to stay closer to home.

  • Fact #7: Average Weight Of A Semi Truck

Not only are semi-trucks much longer than regular cars, but they are also much heavier. In fact, the average weight of a loaded semi-truck is 80,000 pounds. However, some commercial vehicles can be much heavier, including semi-trucks used for trucking in South Dakota. There are no weight limits on out-of-state roads in the state, which means companies can attach as many trailers as they want to their trucks as long as they have the proper license. These South Dakota mega-trucks can weigh up to 170,000 pounds.

  • Fact #8: Top Selling Semi Brand Is Freightliner

Several companies produce semi-trucks for sale in the U.S. domestic market and export overseas, but the sales leaders are the trucks produced by Freightliner.This company is a division of Daimler Trucks North America, which bought Freightliner in the 1980s.However, the history of Freightliner goes back long before the deal with Daimler: the first trucks were developed back in the 1930s, but large-scale production did not start until the 1960s. In 2015, Freightliner Trucks held 37.5% of the semi-truck market, well ahead of second-best-selling Peterbilt, which had a mere 15.9% share.

  • Fact #9: Anti-Lock Brakes Have Been Required Since 1997

In recent decades, the trucking industry has seen many changes to improve the safety of semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. One of the most significant changes came in 1995, when the Department of Transportation announced new regulations making anti-lock braking systems mandatory for trucks built after March 31, 2017. ABS brakes made trucks much safer for drivers and other road users because they could help prevent rollovers if truck drivers had to brake sharply. The industry initially opposed the measure because of the extra cost, but now such safety changes are widely accepted by drivers and supervisors alike.

  • Fact #10: First Semi Truck Created In 1898

Semi-trucks have a longer history than most people think: they date back to 1898. The invention of the semi-truck belongs to Alexander Winton of Cleveland, Ohio. He was a car manufacturer and wanted to find a way to transport his cars to new owners without subjecting them to wear and tear along the way. Eventually, Winton began manufacturing these semi-trucks/vehicle transporters to sell to other automakers. This first semi-truck was not much like today's big trucks: first, the semi had only two wheels, not 18 wheels like today's trailers.

Read about the other 10 facts in our next blog article…