Can you remember the last time you took to the interstate or highway and didn’t see at least a couple of semi-trucks as you drove along? If you are finding it hard to think of that rare time, it’s not really surprising as over 15.5 million semis are operating on the roads across the US these days.
Given the big part they play in our lives – the fact that they are responsible for keeping the economy moving, for supply stores, factories, warehouses, retail outlets, shops, and other businesses with the stock, the products, and materials they need, have you ever stopped to think about how much you actually know about them?
With that in mind, therefore, we are going to highlight 6 surprising facts about 18-wheelers that many people don’t know.
U-Turns Can Be Dangerous in Semis
Normally, semi-trucks have trailers that are between 70 and 75-feet in length. To make a safe U-turn, they need to have around 55-feet. On most US highways, though, that is a problem. Why? The average width of highways in this country only reaches 12-feet. Therefore, it would be impossible for a semi to perform a U-turn both legally and safely.
18 Gears for 18 Wheels
Although most standard-sized semi-trucks tend to have just 10 gears, bigger vehicles can have as many as 13, 15, or even 18 gears made by heavy truck part manufacturers. What are these gears used for specifically? They help to slow down and speed up as necessary when transporting weights on different terrains and inclines.
Diesel is More Efficient For Semis Than Gasoline
Ever wondered why the majority of semi-trucks use diesel rather than gasoline? It’s because overall it is a more efficient fuel. How? It contains a greater percentage of useable energy. As recorded by fueleconomy.gov, between 14 and 30% of gasoline is actually used to move a conventional vehicle along with its route. All of the other energy is used by the accessories and engine.
Whereas diesel contains between 10 and 15% more energy, allowing vehicles powered by it to travel as much as 30% more for every gallon. As semi-trucks are larger than conventional vehicles, require greater power to accelerate and travel over greater distances (meaning they need more fuel more regularly), that fuel efficiency is important and can help large vehicle fleets save a lot of money on their fuel costs.
Engines in Big Rigs Are Designed to Run Continuously
Although you probably know that semi-trucks are used for long-distance journeys, did you know that their engines are actually designed to run for longer duty cycles? Just because they can do that, it doesn’t mean they necessarily should. The interesting thing is though that any hour a semi spends idling, around a gallon of fuel is used. This is something that can cost the trucking and haulage industry $bn’s every year. Aside from the increase in fuel costs, when semis are idling for long periods, as the fuel isn’t being burned completely, it can lead to serious internal engine issues.
Fuel Efficiency and Safety Are Increased by Aerodynamically-Designed Mud Flaps
As odd as it might sound, one of the most important safety and fuel economy additions to big rig trucks is undoubtedly aerodynamically-designed mud flaps. As well as protecting pedestrians, passengers, and vehicles, they also help enhance airflow, reduce the amount of water spray and reduce drag, all of which can make trucks safer to drive and more efficient.
Diesel is More Environmentally Friendly Nowadays
According to the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency, they have found ways to reduce the levels of sulfur in diesel, which makes it much more environmentally friendly. Although this form of fuel was once known for producing many pollutants and toxins like Nitrous Oxide and soot, it is regulated more thoroughly and cleaner in general. Whereas in the past, around 5,000 parts per million of sulfur could be found in diesel, since the EPA has been regulating it, that is down by an incredible 15 ppm.