The standard dimensions are established by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), and these dimensions apply to semi-trailers traveling on any highway in the United States of America. However, the permitted semi-trailer dimensions may vary from state to state, making it critical to check with the Department of Transportation (DOT) of each state along your travel route.
Even though length and height vary from one vehicle to another, semi-trailers, commercial motor vehicles, and tractor-trailer rigs all have a standardized maximum width allowed on United States highways.
Do semi-trailers have standard lengths, and if so, what are those lengths?
Semi-trailers have a standard length of 48 feet. There are a few exceptions, however. A double trailer, for example, can be up to 28ft in length, and extended trailers can be up to 53ft in size if the truck is hauling both trailers at the same time.
The use of large semi-trailer configurations is permitted in some states; for example, Texas allows two-vehicle semi-trailers up to 59ft in length. On the other hand, the sizes listed above are far more common on North American highways. While there are rarely any restrictions on the size of the tractor, there are frequently restrictions on the overall length dimension of both the tractor and the semi-trailer.
While these trailer lengths are the maximum allowed on interstate highways, state-wide roads may have different requirements than those listed above. For example, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, a 53ft6 trailer can travel on state streets, but non-interstate roads have a maximum permissible trailer dimension of 53ft. Full trailer lengths are even shorter in some states, with a maximum range of 48 feet on non-interstate roads.
An Additional Semi-Physical Trailer’s Dimensions
When assembling a semi-trailer for transport, length is not the only dimension to consider. For example, it is not true that a semi-trailer has 53 feet of usable space just because it is 53 feet in total length, even though the overall length may be 53 feet, the overall height maybe 13 feet 6, and the width may be 102 inches, the interior space may only be 47 feet 6 inches.
Other dimensions, such as the width of semi-trailers or tractor-towed trailers, are standard in both types of vehicles. However, according to federal regulations, semi-width campers cannot exceed 8.5 feet.
What Happens If Your Semi-Trailer Doesn’t Comply with USDOT Regulations?
If your semi-trailer is larger than the USDOT dimensions for the state you’re visiting; your shipment may be forced to travel during restricted hours as a result. In addition, if you must travel during the night or on public holidays, for example, you may be required to comply with additional requirements before goods movement is permitted.
It is possible that special permits for oversize vehicles will need to be obtained. The appropriate state well in advance of travel. The Department of Transportation may also require that the applicant conduct a thorough route inspection. The inspection ensures that semi-trailers do not travel on routes with additional restrictions.
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