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How much do you really know about 18-wheelers?

If you were injured in an accident involving an 18-wheeler, you quite literally might not know what hit you. As you endure the healing and rehabilitative process, learning about these big rig behemoths may help to put your 18-wheeler accident in the proper perspective.

How much does an 18-wheeler weigh?

This can vary widely, but 18-wheelers with full cargo can weigh as much as 40 tons, or 80,000 lbs. That's 16 times as much as the average passenger vehicle that weighs around 5,000 lbs.

Semitrucks take up a big share of the road

Not only do these big rigs far outweigh passenger vehicles, they dwarf them in height and length as well. Typically, large trucks are 13' 6" tall and 70 or 80 feet long. Larger cabs can increase the truck's total length, however.

Because of the weight and size disparity to other, smaller vehicles sharing the Kentucky highways, semitrucks take much longer to come to a complete stop — as much as 40 percent longer. This can be a major factor in any accident involving a large truck.

What is the "5th wheel?"

You may have heard the term without realizing what it described. Hint: it's not a tire on the truck. When someone mentions an 18-wheeler's 5th wheel, it's a reference to the round metal plate positioned above the drive tires that hooks the cab and trailer together.

How many gears do big rigs have?

That also depends, but most 18-wheelers have a dozen gears — two to reverse and 10 to drive forward. Some have as few as nine, while others might have up to 18 gears that truckers must shift through.

They do this by double-clutching as they shift. Experienced drivers use a technique known as "floating" that reduces the clutch usage to when they are starting and stopping. While it takes time to perfect, floating saves gas and reduces wear and tear on the big rig.

Now that you know a bit more about 18-wheelers, you can see why your injuries are so extensive and your recovery time so protracted. You may need to take legal action to receive financial compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Source: Truckers Report, "Facts About Trucks – Everything You Want To Know About Eighteen Wheelers," Samuel Barradas, accessed Sep. 01, 2017

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  • Kentucky Justice Association
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