A Roane Transportation yellow semi truck with a flatbed trailer behind it.

Top Things You Didn’t Know About Tractor Trailers

The trucking industry boasts a massive percentage of the goods we have in our possession, 71% to be exact, and there are over 8.5 million drivers using 39 billion gallons of diesel fuel! The trucking industry truly runs America, pun intended.  Here is a top ten list, Late Night with David Letterman style, of things you may have wondered about tractor trailers.

Top 10 Answers to Questions About Diesel Tractor Trailers

10. Are there any cool truck stops out there? We are really glad you asked. Truck stops are becoming more than just a place to refuel and get a cold drink. These truck stops are so interesting that we think a road trip to visit each one is necessary. With a masseuse, barber shop, tattoo parlor, fireworks store, movie theater, and a pet wash, these are some amazing places to stop and check out on your next trip.

9. Who drives tractor trailers? Driving down the interstate and glancing up at the passing semi-driver might surprise you. Gone is the expected look of a trucker, gathered from movies such as Smoky & The Bandit. The industry is seeing a large influx of women, African American, and other diverse drivers in the industry. Being that there are over 3.2 million long-haul drivers today in the United States, diversity is imminent. These drivers hold Class A licenses, meaning they pilot vehicles with a weight of more than 26,000 lbs. Many of these drivers have additional endorsements which grant them the chance to drive longer trailers, tankers, and even carry hazardous materials.

8. Why are they called semitrucks? There is some confusion here, as the term is not technically ‘semitruck’ but semi-trailer. The reason for the name comes from the configuration of the setup. The truck itself is called the tractor and the semi is a trailer box with a rear axle and no front axle. A large portion of the load is carried by the tractor, not the trailer, and thus, it is called a semitruck as it is semi-carrying the load. This is also where we get the name, ‘tractor-trailer.’

7. What causes a trailer to wreck? Seeing a semitruck laying on the side of the road is frightening. What causes this to happen? Since the late 1990s, tractor trailers have had antilock brakes, making jack-knifing of a truck less of an occurrence. These jack-knifing wrecks used to happen when the rear wheels would lock up and the trailer would swing around the truck. Now, however, the scariest wrecks are when a truck rolls onto its side. This massive machine has a threat of rolling when it hits a loose surface, and the driver tries to overcorrect. This overcorrection can cause the trailer to roll when the driver reacts by trying to steer the trailer back onto the road. Tractor trailers also need about 20-40 percent longer to stop than a regular vehicle; therefore, the desire to overcorrect when stopping quickly could also be a factor for a roll.

6. How much weight does a tractor trailer haul? Did you make a guess? If you guessed around 80,000 pounds, you were correct! This weight is spread over 18 wheels in the United States on a semitruck and full trailer. In the land down under, Australian trucks can haul an excess of 300,000 lbs.

5. What do truckers do for long hours on the road? With about 8 – 10 hours on the road solo, trucking can be a difficult lifestyle. But for those who desire a career with freedom, flexibility, and the alone time, the job can be a dream. As a trucker, you are never truly alone. As many drivers will attest, the CB radio is there and has a lot of information and communication to assist professional drivers. The prevalence of XM radio, podcasts, and audiobooks make the road easier and give truckers hours of entertainment. Most semitrucks now have WIFI making the stop overnight full of options right in the cab!

4. What does the inside of a trucker cab look like? We are glad that you asked! The inside of a truck is outfitted like an apartment with full length beds and refrigerators, it is mighty cozy inside these rigs. Wanna see? Here’s a photo of the inside:

Inside of a truck be

3. Can these trucks ever be truly fuel efficient? The recent EPA Cleaner Trucks Initiative may have brought this thought to your mind. It seems that something so big and using a lot of fuel might actually be harmful on our environment. However with the clean diesel operating in trucks today, it would take 60 trucks running to equal the exhaust of one truck from 1988. The semitrucks running clean diesel make up over 30 percent of the trucks on the road now and save 4.2 billion gallons of fuel. The future is bright for the environment and tractor trailers are playing a big role.

2. How much do we really use the trucks? Trucking is vital to American industry. With so much of our products being transported via the road, the shortage of truck drivers is still not enough to deter the industry. Trucking remains one of the most dominant careers, with over 4 million truckers moving over 11 billion tons and generating over $676 billion in revenue. With the advent of automation, increased technology in the trucks, and more flexible hours, the job is becoming one of the most attractive for future generations. Who doesn’t love the open road, the chance to see new sights, and accommodating hours with great pay?!

1. What does it take to become a truck driver? Reading through the list above may get you itching to get on the road. If you are ready to take the leap to become a trucker, there are a few things you need to know. First, you will need at a minimum to hold a valid US driver’s license, be 18 years of age or at least 21 to drive hazardous materials or interstate freight, be free from DUI charges in the previous five years before filing your CDL application, and pass a DOT medical and drug examination. The Commercial Driver’s License specifications are varied from state-to-state, so be sure to check locally the requirements. Pursuing truck driving school is one way to ensure that you will pass your CDL test. Once the written and driver’s portions of the exam are taken, you can begin your search for jobs in one of the many trucking companies in your area.

Inspired to Be a Truck Driver in the Logistics Industry?

Our country is run by the trucking industry. As our main source of trade on our roads, trucks have fascinated Americans for generations from the time we were a child hoping to receive the loud honk of a passing trucker to the vision of hitting the open road. If you are ready to begin the process, why not get started pursuing your dream today?

Trucking Company in East Tennessee

Roane Transportation has been driving the industry in America since 1996. Since then we have expanded our transportation services to include logistics and have worked hard to have a work atmosphere which is known to provide excellent pay, benefits, and more time home. More than our trucks, Roane Transportation runs on our people. To find out more, reach out online.