What is a semi-truck?

A semi-truck, also known as a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler, is a large, heavy-duty vehicle used to transport goods over long distances. It consists of two main parts:

  • Tractor: The tractor, also called the cab-over engine (COE) or conventional truck, is the front part of the vehicle. It houses the engine, driver’s cabin, and other controls.
  • Trailer: The trailer is the cargo-carrying part of the vehicle. It is attached to the tractor using a fifth-wheel coupling, which allows the trailer to pivot freely when making turns. Trailers come in various lengths and configurations, depending on the type of cargo they are designed to carry.

Here are some key characteristics of semi-trucks:

  • Large size and weight: Semi-trucks are significantly larger and heavier than most other vehicles on the road. They can be up to 53 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.
  • Power: Semi-trucks have powerful engines that allow them to haul heavy loads over long distances.
  • Limited maneuverability: Due to their large size, semi-trucks can be difficult to maneuver, especially in tight spaces.
  • Importance to the economy: Semi-trucks play a vital role in the economy by transporting goods across the country. They are essential for delivering everything from food and clothing to raw materials and manufactured goods.

Here are some common types of semi-trailer configurations:

  • Dry van: This is the most common type of trailer, used for transporting general freight that is protected from the elements.
  • Flatbed: This type of trailer has a flat bed that can be used to transport oversized or odd-shaped cargo.
  • Tanker: This type of trailer is used to transport liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and chemicals.
  • Refrigerated trailer: This type of trailer has an insulated body and refrigeration unit to keep cargo cold, such as food and medicine.
  • Dump trailer: This type of trailer has a hydraulically operated bed that can be tilted to unload loose materials, such as sand, gravel, and dirt.