Part 1: Fun Facts About Trucks and Truck Driving
If you commute to work, then you likely see dozens of them on the road every day. But how much do you know about long-haul trucks? Here are a few fun facts you probably didn’t know.
Big Brother vs. Little Brother
Compared to a car engine, semi engines are up to six times larger in size and weight, ranging from 70 to 80 feet in length and weighing up to 80,000 pounds. The average automobile is only 5,000 pounds.
An average semi engine has 400 to 600 horsepower and one thousand to two thousand pound-feet of torque. In contrast, a car engine has 100 to 200 horsepower and 100 to 200 pound-feet of torque.
A semi engine is built to last 1,000,000 miles before an overhaul or rebuild. A typical car engine lasts for about 150k to 200k miles. Semi engines can also run nonstop. The only time semi engines have to be shut off is to change the oil, service the engine or follow anti-idle laws.
Semi engines typically have at least 12 gears — 10 forward gears and two reverse gears. Car engines have four to five gears. Semi engines also have turbochargers and an air-braking system.
Limitations and Challenges
Because long-haul trucks carry significant weight and are quite long, they need about 40 percent more time to stop than cars. In addition, the average turning radius for long-haul trucks is 55 feet.
When trucks drive without a trailer, called bobtailing, they drive very differently and can be more dangerous, especially in wet weather. Another risk in truck driving is a jack-knife accident. This type of accident occurs when a trailer exceeds a 45 degree angle when measured against the tractor. A jack-knife accident may occur on icy or wet roads, or when a driver is hauling an empty trailer and has to brake very suddenly.
Tandem is a term used to describe a set of two axles, with one axle immediately following the other. Because laws limit how much weight can be carried on each axle, distributing the weight over multiple axles allows trailers to hold more weight.