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Knowing your semi-truck and understanding it enough to drive it, repair it, and get the product there in time is a worthwhile pursuit. Yet there is so much that even the common truck driver doesn’t know. Here are some little known facts about semi-trucks, particularly about the engine driving the truck.

Before we get to what actually drives, we should start with what stops the truck. The brakes on a semi are one of the most intricate systems on any mode of transportation, save for maybe airplanes and trains. Since 1997, these brakes had to be antilock brakes, and for a very important reason. Brakes locking up leads to jackknifing accidents, which used to be the most dangerous accidents involving trucks. Since the passage of that law, rollover accidents have become the most common, dangerous semi-involved accidents, which result from a truck driver driving over a loose surface and overcorrecting.

One more thing about trucks’ brakes: while it is commonly known that it takes longer for truckers to stop, not many people know that, in terms of time, it takes trucks 40% longer to come to a complete stop. This isn’t a surprising number: with its towing capacity reaching 30 times higher than a car, slowing down the multiple-ton truck will of course take longer.

Speaking of towing capacity: we can learn more interesting, little-known facts about trucks that stem from this capacity. As stated before, they can tow loads that are 30 times heavier, but this capacity also means they use more than 20 times the amount of fuel. This fuel powers an engine that can range to over 1000 horse power. The greater amount of horse power leads to greater towing capacity, but the largest “road train” one of these engines tugged occurred in Australia, where a Mack Titan drove with 112 semi-trailers attached!

Finally, these engines have lasting power. A well-kept engine can continue growing for over 600,000 miles, which can last for ten-plus years. A semi-truck can be one of the best investments for a company—something companies like Amazon are getting into.

These reasons, plus the fact that they are so difficult to drive, requires commitment and, of course, a special license. More importantly though is these facts can help non-truck drivers better understand semi-trucks and be safer around them. While environmental concerns have been raised about the trucking industry in general, the overwhelming benefits from trucking continue to make it the most popular method to ship items across the country and around the world.

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