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Kentucky drivers, what do you know about big trucks?

You see them every day on Kentucky streets and highways. When a big truck appears in a driver's rear-view mirror, bearing down on them at what seems like an alarming rate of speed, it can be a terrifying experience.

Motorists' thoughts may start racing, as they worriedly wonder if the trucker can see their much smaller passenger vehicles or be able to stop the big rigs in time to avoid a crushing pile-up from occurring.

In these instances, having some basic knowledge about large trucks may be reassuring to those braving the highways beside these behemoths.

-- How much do 18-wheelers weigh?

Legally, they can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs., which equals 40 tons. Keep that in mind the next time you're jockeying for position with one on the interstate. Most passenger vehicles only weigh approximately 5,000 lbs.

-- Why do big trucks take so long to stop?

It's not an urban myth that 18-wheelers take 40 percent longer to fully stop than passenger vehicles do. Their vast size and weight, coupled with the weight of the cargo they're hauling, makes quick stops an impossibility.

-- What other factors might affect how long it takes an 18-wheeler to stop?

The weather and/or road conditions can increase the time it takes to stop a big rig. So can the condition of the driver, whether it results from intoxication, impairment by drugs (legal or otherwise) or incapacitation from the sudden onset of a medical condition.

-- Do 18-wheelers have 18 gears to maneuver?

Not usually. Most big rigs have 10 forward gears and two more that reverse. However, some may have as few as nine, and it's indeed possible to have as many as 18 gears.

-- Why do some trucks travel without trailers attached?

It's called "bobtailing," and despite the fact that it is potentially very dangerous, sometimes logistics dictates that it's necessary.

Did you learn anything new about large trucks? Remember to respect these larger vehicles sharing our roads to reduce your risk of getting into a wreck with one.

Source: The Truckers Report, "Facts About Trucks – Everything You Want To Know About Eighteen Wheelers," Samuel Barradas, accessed April 28, 2017

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  • Kentucky Justice Association
  • Kentucky Bar Association 1871 Lex Ordo Justicia
  • United States District Court Western District Of Kentucky
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