Michigan is home to a lot of unique things, but some, more than others, still puzzle even longtime residents.

WHY do some semis in the state of Michigan - and ONLY in Michigan - have SO many wheels?

Well, today, we're going to learn about these massive vehicles known as the "Michigan Trains."

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A typical semi consists of five axles - three on the cab, and two at the back of the trailer. Federal law says the maximum weight allowed is 80,000 pounds with four of its five axles carrying 17,000 pounds each.

In Michigan, however, things are different. The Law of the Mitten states,

"The Calculated maximum allowable gross vehicle weight on the heaviest 'Michigan weight-law truck' is 164,000 pounds, which can only be achieved with the use of 11 properly space axles. Most of these axles carry only 13,000 pounds each."

So nearly DOUBLE the weight is allowed on the road in Michigan, but it requires a LOT more wheels.

Michigan has an incredible amount of product that is shipped on land. With shipping ports on Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Eerie, that product has to be offloaded and put on semis for its next destination.

That much product is VERY heavy, and in any other state, it would take a little more than two trucks to move the amount of goods that a "Michigan Train" can.

"But what about the Roads," right?

Michigan notoriously has some pretty rough road conditions. Even Governor Gretchen Whitmer ran on the campaign slogan, "fix the damn roads." You'd think THAT much weight would do even more damage to the surfaces.

Turns out, it doesn't.

Studies have actually shown that more axles with less weight distributed over them actually saves the roads, producing less than half the amount of traffic of big trucks.

"More trucks on the road raise serious questions concerning safety and traffic congestion. Several other states are currently looking at Michigan's axle weight laws and are considering adopting similar laws."

Some states allow semis to pull multiple trailers on their rigs, up to three in length in states like Ohio and Florida. Even Canada, in some places, allows trucks with more axles. But NONE of them compare to the closely-packed axles of these monsters on the road in Michigan.

Keep Rollin'.

Lansing's Historic Duplex Truck Company