Imagine Driving a Tractor with 79 Trailers

by TJ on April 10, 2012

How would you like to be driving a rig pulling 79 trailers?  This happened in Bourke, Australia and is in the Guinness world record books.   It was 3,340 ft. long, weighed a total of 2.364 million pounds, and was pulled 4.9 miles by a Kenworth C501 truck.  This kind of transport is called a Trailer Road-Train.

The average Australian Road-Train has three or more trailers and is 174 feet long.  This type of transport hauls an average of 253,532 pounds.  One that has 7 trailers hauls 418,880 pounds, and is common on the highway.

In the Outback of Australia, truck drivers face many problems that cannot even be imagined by truck drivers in the U.S.  There are no freeways, all traffic travels on a two-lane road.   In this hot, dry country, many of the roads are not paved.  Although there is air conditioning in the cabs, many drivers wear thongs or go barefoot and shorts rather than long pants.  Because of the heat, most homes are built underground.

In the outback locations, there is usually no fuel or truck stop for 500 miles.  This means, if you break down it is going to be some times before help arrives.  Because of the heat, it is not unusual for three tires to be blown in one trip.  In addition, it means a long drive without a break.

There is an Australian Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue Law with three sets of rest requirements.  They are Standard Hours, Basic Fatigue Management, and Advanced Fatigue Management.  They are as follows:

Standard Hours and Basic Fatigue Management

Time Period        Work                 Rest

6-1/4 hrs.       6 hrs.         16 minutes

9 hrs.    8-1/2 hrs   30 min. in blocks of 15 min.

12 hrs.    11 hrs   60 min. in blocks of 15 min.

24 hrs.    14 hrs   7 continuous hours

If more flexible hours are needed application may be made for Advanced Fatigue Management.

Each tractor has what is called a Bull bar on the front of the truck.  Very few ranches in the area have fences, so cattle, as well as kangaroos, often appear in the middle of the highway.   There is a huge amount of unoccupied land so the driver is really on his or her own.

These road-trains carry a variety of loads.  They may be building materials, computers, fertilizer, frozen foods, milk, perishable foodstuffs, or other items.  Flatbed trailers are often used as on the return trip the empty ones can be piled on top of each other, which saves the tires and wheel bearings.  Because of the scarcity of railroads, the trucks often carry railroad cars into populated area train hubs.

One driver of 30 years is enthusiastic about his Freightliner Century Class truck like these on  He states that this C-120 has a 140-pound GCM rating, powered by a 600 hp Caterpillar C-16.  It also has an 18 speed Eaton gearbox and Meritor drive axles with a Neway air-suspension, as well as an excellent air conditioning system.  His previous truck was a Kenworth T950 with Cat power, which he drove over 623,000 miles.

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