Truck Beds

Having a truck is comes in really handy sometimes, like when you are hauling lumber home from the forest or moving a sarcophagus out of the city.

The rest of a truck's life is spent moving a single person from point A to point B, just like a car. I assumed that the back of the average truck spends most of its life empty.

In fact, I guessed that 98% of all truck beds are empty, and that this information would support an argument against buying big trucks. Why buy a truck if the back is going to be empty all the time, right? It seemed like a waste.

Eager to prove this theory, I ventured onto a pedestrian overpass above Interstate 5 in Sacramento. I decided to count the empty trucks. 

I was only counting passenger trucks with an open bed. The kind of trucks you see ads for on television, brimming with cargo, not Mack trucks or Panel trucks. 

To my surprise, many of the trucks were actually hauling loads around. 

Lumber, carpet, tools, tires, pool chemicals and painting supplies were streaming north.

Three people honked, one person waved and one person flipped me off.


In 25 minutes I had counted 150 trucks, and 99 of them had been empty. This 66% empty ratio was much lower than I had expected. I hadn't realized that so many trucks were being so successfully utilized.

Some of the trucks I saw that day must have been professional contractors: masons, plumbers and painters. I wanted to find out what percentage of non-professional people had empty trucks, so I narrowed the sample of trucks I was counting.

I decided to count trucks again, this time leaving out trucks with a roof rack, such as the one shown here.

The second survey took place at 3pm on November 26th, 2002.  I stood above the northbound lanes of Interstate 80. I counted 100 passenger trucks without roof-racks. 
The results were similar: 39% of the trucks were hauling goods, and 61 of them were empty. My hypothesis had been incorrect. People use their trucks all the time.. or at least the trucks that I saw were being well used.

Along with this adjustment of my perception, I also realized that an empty truck is no more wasteful than an empty back seat. Most cars AND trucks in the US drive around with 75% of the cargo space unutilized...what difference does it make if it is interior or exterior space?

The primary question when you are buying a truck might be: What will I get the most use out of, an interior back seat or a giant exterior cargo area?

Then again, maybe a motorcycle would be a better choice.




More Collecting Data | Mobile Phones | Free Throws

Highway Patriotism | How much is Inside? | Pranks | Inside a Chevy Trailblazer | Contact Rob

Last updated December 2, 2002.

  • Photographic Height/Weight Chart
  • The Weight of Clothing
  • The Television Commercial Database
  • Terms and Conditions Copyright 2002