How Much Does a Semi-Truck Weigh?

How Much Does a Semi-Truck Weigh?

The semi-trucks that travel the country hauling critical cargo are, by far, the most oversized vehicles on the highway. With millions of tractor-trailers traveling the United States’ highways every day, understanding the sheer mass of these large trucks can help the average motorist appreciate their raw power and, unfortunately, their ability to do catastrophic damage when they crash. How much does a semi-truck weigh? The answer is tens of thousands of pounds, up to 80,000 when fully loaded. If you were in an accident with a semi-truck, contact the accident attorneys at Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers at (615) 685-8546 for a consultation today.

Large Trucks on the Highways

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics website shows over 13 million commercial truck registrations for 2019. Semi-trucks have proven vital links in the supply chain, providing much-needed transportation of goods throughout the country. Much of the cargo they haul is integral to daily life. Large trucks carry goods such as:

  • Food
  • Dry goods
  • Furniture
  • Building materials
  • Supplies
  • Medication
  • Livestock
  • Hazardous wastes
  • Oil and gasoline

The list of all of the vital freight is extensive. Therefore, a semi-tractor (the entire front vehicle portion of the truck) combined with the trailer and cargo amount to tonnage not otherwise seen in other vehicles on the road. 

Truck Accident Statistics

Unfortunately, with all of this weight and size comes an increased risk of accidents. Despite the extensive training of semi-truck drivers, fatal and injurious accidents with large trucks occur every year. According to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Injury Facts website, in 2019, 118,000 large trucks were involved in crashes that resulted in injury, a ten-year high. Also, in 2019, large truck crashes killed over 5,000 people. The NSC report also shows that the vast majority of people who died in semi-truck crashes– 71%–were occupants of other vehicles. Semi-truck occupants made up 18% of the crash fatalities.

Consequences of Semi-Truck Accidents

Some of the most common causes of semi-truck accidents may sound familiar:

  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Severe weather driving
  • Driver error

The difference is that when a semi-truck driver experiences any of the above, the consequences are more severe, given the sheer mass and momentum of a large tractor-trailer. A semi-truck needs an estimated 300 feet to come to a full and complete stop.  An out-of-control semi-truck is nearly impossible to stop or correct. Some of the other reasons semi-trucks might be more prone to accidents on the highway include the following reasons.

Drowsy Driving

Semi-truck drivers are more prone to driving while sleepy than other motorists. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates that a large truck operator’s driving time cannot exceed eleven consecutive hours. However, the demands of deadlines and efficiency may pressure commercial truck drivers to sacrifice sleep to make it to their destination.

Cargo Overload

Overloaded cargo trailers can cause severe highway accidents. The weight of the overloaded trailer can cause the truck tip over, even when performing routine traffic maneuvers such as changing lanes. Also, debris from trailers with open tops can fly out, creating roadside hazards for other drivers.

Vehicle Failure

By necessity, large trucks experience an extremely high amount of use. While these vehicles are designed and built to be durable, the amount of wear and tear can cause a variety of malfunctions. Brake failure or blown tires can happen to any vehicle, but when such routine breakdowns occur on a large truck, the amplified effects can lead to even more severe crashes.

Accidents with semi-trucks are abnormally perilous situations, given their sheer mass. How much does a semi-truck weigh? It weighs enough to cause grave injury or even death when involved in an accident. If you were in an accident with a semi-truck, contact an experienced accident attorney at Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers to ensure your legal rights remain protected.

The Weight of Large Trucks

Large trucks weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds, depending on what freight they are carrying. Two categories define semi-truck weight: unladen and laden.


The unladen weight of a truck includes the trailer and tractor combined. However, the laden weight does not include the freight or cargo contained in the trailer. 


The laden weight is the combined weight of the tractor, trailer, and load the trailer is carrying. Therefore, it is no surprise that the laden weight can change depending on the nature of the cargo. For example, the total laden weight will differ if a semi-truck is carrying mattresses versus building equipment.

Under federal law, the max laden weight allowed for a semi is 80,000 pounds. However, the law allows states to regulate the weight within their state’s highway system. As a result, some states allow for a heavier laden weight if a semi is driving on a non-interstate highway, though some adhere to the federal weight limit. The Federal Highway Administration website lists each state’s weight regulations.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The total combined weight of the truck plus everything onboard is known as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR. The GVWR includes the weight of the tractor, trailer, freight, fuel, passengers, and anything else attached to the semi. The GVWR is essential because it divides trucks into weight classes. According to the government website, the classifications include the following:

  • Light-duty trucks: less than 10,000 lbs.
  • Medium duty trucks: between 10,0001-26,000 lbs.
  • Heavy-duty trucks: greater than 26,001 lbs.

The GVWR is not the inherent weight of the vehicle but rather a rating system that includes everything a truck could carry and still operate safely.

Consider Contacting a Large Truck Accident Attorney Today

Even when a semi-truck is functional, and the driver is doing everything correctly, accidents still happen. How much do semi-trucks weigh? They can weigh over forty tons, depending on what they are carrying. Consider contacting an experienced truck accident attorney at Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers, at (615) 685-8546 for a free consultation today.

Contact the Nashville Truck Accident Attorneys at Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers Today

For more information, please contact the Nashville car accident law firm of Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers, to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Nashville, Brentwood, and its surrounding areas in Tennessee:

Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers – Nashville
315 Deaderick St, Suite 1525
Nashville, TN 37238

(615) 685-8546

Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers – Brentwood
320 Seven Springs Way, Suite 250
Brentwood, TN 37027

(615) 455-3384