How Much Does a Semi-Truck Weigh?

Semi-trucks are the true masters of the road. Their size makes them forces to be reckoned with. If you’ve ever wondered how much one weighs, you’re likely not alone in your curiosity. How much a big rig weighs depends on many factors, such as the size and load of the truck.

Semi-Trucks in Pennsylvania

Semi-trucks are referred to as heavy trucks in Pennsylvania. A heavy truck is defined as any truck that has a registered gross weight exceeding 17,000 pounds. Therefore, the semis you see on the road weigh at least 17,000 pounds. 

As far as maximum weights are concerned, per state and federal law, no individual heavy truck may weigh more than 40 tons (80,000 pounds). This 40-ton limit also applies to the combination of vehicles, such as a heavy truck pulling a semitrailer.  

By observing the axles on a heavy truck, you can get a better idea of how much the vehicle might weigh. The Pennsylvania General Assembly has set specific weight limits based on the number of axles a heavy truck and its trailer have.

Two-Axle Truck

Two-axle trucks cannot individually weigh more than 38,000 pounds. When towing a load, the combined weight of the truck and the load depends on how many axles the semi-trailer has. Single-axle semi-trailers with the truck can weigh up to 58,400 pounds, and two-axle semi-trailers allow for a combined weight of up to 73,280 pounds.

Three-Axle Truck

The maximum gross weight for a semi-truck with three axles is 58,400 pounds. While engaged in towing, the combined weight of the truck and a single-axle semitrailer cannot exceed 73,280 pounds. 


These mammoth vehicles often have five axles and cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Additionally, they cannot haul loads with a combined weight of more than 80,000 pounds. 

In some cases, you may encounter individual semi-trucks on the road that exceed this 40-ton limit. They are allowable in limited circumstances with an overweight hauling permit issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 

In municipalities and townships, you’ll likely only encounter smaller heavy trucks on many of the roadways. Weight prohibitions exist for some roadways to prevent heavy trucks from causing damage to city roads that aren’t designed to support continued heavy loads.

Heavy Truck Accidents in Pennsylvania

As you might imagine, heavy truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries and death. Drivers must meet a variety of requirements in order to be licensed to drive these vehicles. 

The margin of error on the highway is much smaller when piloting a big rig, and it may take hundreds of feet to bring one to a halt in an emergency situation. An accident in Lackawanna County demonstrates this.

An RV owner was killed on Interstate 84 near Jefferson Township after his RV became disabled. A heavy garbage-hauling truck slammed into the victim’s vehicle from behind. Four others suffered serious injuries and were taken to the hospital.

If the heavy truck were a sedan or even an SUV, perhaps it would have caused less damage to the RV or even could have stopped in time.  

What Should You Do After a Semi-Truck Accident?

After an accident, the most important thing to do is to get to safety. Unfortunately, the RV driver on I-84 didn’t have time to do this and was killed. After getting to safety, notify the authorities and seek medical attention, even if you think your injuries are minor. 

A personal injury attorney should be consulted soon after the accident to discuss your legal rights and options. Filing a claim or lawsuit after a semi-truck accident will allow you to recover compensation for the damages you sustained.

In semi-truck accidents, common damages include:

  • Expenses for medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earning potential
  • Pain and suffering

By taking your case to a personal injury lawyer, you put yourself on the path to pursuing the highest compensation available for your case.

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963