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What is the Difference Between a Semi-Truck and a Truck?

You likely have heard many different names used for the giant vehicles that haul goods and cargo on the highway — semi-truck, tractor-trailer, big rig, 18-wheeler, or simply truck. But do each of these names refer to different types of vehicles? Are there any differences between a truck, semi-truck, and 18-wheeler?

Semi-Truck, Truck, 18-Wheeler: What’s the Difference?

Depending on the context, the term “truck” may refer to a wide range of commercial vehicles, including box trucks, tractor-trailers, semi-trucks and  18-wheelers in Utah. These specific terms typically refer to a truck’s body type, wheels, and other defining characteristics.

A semi-truck has two parts: a trailer, which carries cargo, and a tractor, which contains the engine. Notably, a semi-truck’s tractor can detach from its trailer, and semi-trucks often travel without trailers.

The terms 18-wheeler and tractor-trailer simply refer to a semi-truck and its trailer. Tractor-trailers are sometimes called 18-wheelers due to the total number of wheels on the tractor and trailer.

Are All Semi-Trucks Commercial Motor Vehicles?

Semi-Truck and a TruckA commercial vehicle transports goods or passengers for a profit. Semi-trucks often fall under this definition. A vehicle could also be considered a commercial vehicle if it meets a certain weight threshold. A semi-truck will certainly qualify as a commercial motor vehicle when combined with a trailer.

Different Types of Trailers for Semi-Trucks

Semi-trucks have various types of trailers, each designed for a specific job or to haul a particular kind of cargo. These include:

  • Flatbed trailers
  • Refrigerated trailers
  • Lowboy trailers
  • Conestoga trailers
  • Dry van trailers
  • Logging trailers
  • Tipper trailers
  • Single/double drop trailers
  • Removable gooseneck trailers
  • Liquid or gas tankers
  • Car carriers

What to Do After a Semi-Truck Accident

The things you do after a truck accident can impact your health and ability to recover compensation. If possible, you should:

  • Call 911.
  • Get the truck driver’s driver’s license number, employer name, and insurance information.
  • Take photos and video of the crash scene.
  • Go to the hospital or see a doctor to evaluate your injuries.
  • Keep copies of medical bills and receipts for accident-related expenses.
  • Retain your pay stubs and tax returns if you missed work while recovering from your injuries.
  • Talk to a truck accident attorney to learn your legal options.

Hurt in an Accident with a Semi-Truck? Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you suffered injuries in a truck crash that was not your fault, reach out to the attorneys at Swenson & Shelley for a free, no-obligation consultation. A Utah semi-truck accident lawyer from our law firm can explain your rights and options for seeking compensation for your losses. Call or contact us today.

Kevin Swenson was raised in Bountiful, Utah, and is a co-founding partner of Swenson & Shelley. After graduating from Bountiful High School, Kevin attended business school at Westminster College.