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What makes semi-trucks so formidable on the road?

Virginia highways often feature large semi-trucks tasked with hauling goods and other supplies all over the country. While these trucks are essential from a commerce perspective, they can also be quite intimidating to share the road with. This has much to do with the anatomy of a semi-truck, which is quite different than that of your average passenger vehicle. Popular Mechanics offers a few surprising facts about semis and how they function. 

An 18-wheeler is capable of transporting up to 80,000 pounds. This massive load requires quite a bit of power to transport, which is why truck engines are so impressive. For instance, some big rig engines actually weigh more than small passenger vehicles, such as Mini Coopers. One particular engine weighs 2,880 pounds, which is 345 lbs heavier than these sprightly vehicles. An engine of this size is capable of generating 560 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque, which enables the truck to haul a huge amount of cargo. 

While the introduction of anti-lock brakes reduced trucking accidents a great deal, these days trucks have a high risk of rollover accidents, which can also be deadly. Rollovers are often caused by driver error after being faced with a common road hazard. When traveling over gravel or dirt, a driver may overcorrect while trying to pilot the truck back onto the road. 

There are currently 3.2 million long-haul truckers in the U.S. working today. These drivers must be licensed to haul certain goods and materials, or even to haul loads over a certain weight. For instance, a Class A trucker's license allows the driver to operate a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds. Licensing is also necessary to haul hazardous materials, tankers, and double and triple-trailers. 

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