How Much Does a Semi-Truck Weigh?

How much does a semi-truck weigh?

Have you ever stopped and thought “how much does a semi-truck weigh?”

It might have crossed your mind as you were passing a weight station on the interstate when traveling around New Mexico. However, it’s unlikely that it piqued your interest enough to research it unless you’ve had the misfortune of having a collision with a big rig yourself or lost a loved one to a crash.

When you hear about the dangers associated with wrecks between passenger cars and tractor-trailers, those conversations often center around the sheer difference in size between the two vehicles.

The argument is often that these two vehicles are no match for each other when explaining why the potential for life-altering injuries or fatalities when these two vehicles collide is so high.

One of the biggest factors that makes 18-wheelers so potentially dangerous to passenger car operators, pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and even other trucks is their weight. Let’s explore how much commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) like these tend to weigh.

Understanding the Weights of Tractor-Trailers

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the federal government has an upper limit that semi-trucks can weigh, which is a gross vehicle weight (GVW) or 80,000 pounds.

However, that limit only applies to some of the largest trucks on our roadways.

How much weight a truck is allowed to haul greatly depends on how many axles it has. For example, DOT regulations only allow for a 20,000-pound weight limit on a single axle. That weight limit increases by 14,000 pounds to 34,000 pounds if it has a tandem axle group.

Now, given the 80,000-pound max weight limit semi-trucks can weigh per federal law, you may be wondering how much an 18-wheeler’s trailer weighs when empty.

The average weight is around 35,000 pounds.

States Like New Mexico Impose Weight Limits on Trucks Also

New Mexico has its own weight limits, which large trucks must comply with. The overall maximum weight limit is 86,400 pounds. However, state regulations, specifically 66-7-409 NMSA 1978, prohibit truckers from exceeding 21,600 pounds on any single axle per the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. Additionally, state regulations outline how the weight carried on a single wheel cannot exceed 11,000 pounds.

How Does the Weight of a Large Truck Compare to That of a Passenger Car?

An article posted by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in 2023 chronicled how the standard new car sold in the U.S. in 2022 weighed, on average, 4,329 pounds.

That article detailed how this marked a 1,000-pound increase in the weight of passenger cars in 1980. NADA also shared how this marked a 175-pound increase during the prior three years.

The uptick in the average weight of passenger cars in the U.S. has to do with the fact that individuals are buying increasingly larger vehicles and more are buying electric cars. Of course, the number of vehicle occupants and their stature also play a role in the weight of a passenger car.

Why did we introduce the weight of passenger cars into this conversation?

We did so to highlight just how unequally sized the automobiles most of us drive compared to trucks and why crashes among these tend to result in injuries and deaths.

How Does the Weight of an 18-Wheeler Impact its Maneuverability?

We mentioned that crashes between cars and trucks are often deadly because of the difference in sizes between these vehicles. Size aside, though, what about a truck’s weight makes it particularly dangerous for the rest of us to share the road with? It comes down to the heavier a truck is, the:

  • More likely their braking will be affected: It will take longer to bring the big rig to a complete stop.
  • Stronger the likelihood that a truck may experience a rollover: The chances of this occurring are likely to be highest if the load packed in the trailer isn’t adequately secured and shifts about when a trucker takes a turn too fast.
  • More forceful any impact is likely to be: The heavier the truck is, the more catastrophic the property damage and vehicle occupants’ physical injuries will be.

Getting Help If a Heavy Truck Crashed into You and Your Vehicle

As outlined above, truck crashes tend to cause significant harm.

If you believe that a warehouse overloaded the truck that struck you, or you have reason to believe that a logistics company engaged in some impropriety that led to you sharing the road with an unsafe truck, you may have a valid reason to pursue a legal claim against them or another responsible party.

Our legal team at Barrera Law Group LLC has a clear understanding of the weight limitations that apply to trucks in New Mexico and truckers’ and trucking companies’ responsibilities to adhere to not only state but also federal laws and regulations.

We’re happy to discuss those with you during a free initial consultation with one of our truck accident attorneys.

By learning about them and sharing more about your truck crash with a lawyer, you may learn that you have the right to file a suit to recover compensation for losses caused by someone in the truck industry.

So, call or email us to schedule a meeting with a legal representative today.