A fully loaded tractor and trailer or commercial motor vehicle (CMV) can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That’s more than 20 times the weight of your standard sized vehicle. Truck drivers are responsible for keeping their truck and trailer’s combined weight below 80,000 pounds. There are a few ways around this requirement where a trucking company can adjust the weight of an overloaded trailer, but it involves running with low fuel at all times and sharing the weight of the trailer with the truck.
Overloaded tractor trailers claim numerous lives and leave thousands injured across the United States every year. Trucking companies are responsible for all of the harms and losses they cause from overloaded tractor-trailer accidents. Contact The Dixon Injury Firm for more information if you have been injured by calling (314) 409-7060.
Truck and Trailer Weight Standards for Interstate Driving
The typical semi truck weighs roughly 18,000 to 22,000 pounds including the driver, driver’s personal items, fuel, and other necessities. The empty 53 foot trailer weighs roughly 15,000 pounds and may be loaded up to 44,000 or 46,000 pounds. This means that the average semi tractor and trailer has a combined weight of 75,000 to 80,000 pounds. The weight of these vehicles results in some of those most devastating accidents on our roadways. Here are a few alarming statistics:
- TruckSafety.org indicates that nearly 30% of trucks are overloaded at any given time.
- Nearly 4,000 CMVs were involved in fatal crashes in 2014.
- Large trucks were responsible for roughly 88,000 injuries in 2014.
- Large trucks were involved in about 346,000 property-damage-only crashes in 2014.
- At a rate of 2,000 to 3,000 miles per week, the average truck driver may drive up to 156,000 miles per year. The average mileage for a standard vehicle is 12,000 miles per year.
How Trucks and Trailers are Weighed
Both the truck and the trailer must be weighed in order to ensure that they are below the 80,000 pound limit as a pair. This can be done a few different ways.
- One Axle Weigh Method: Each axle is driven onto the scale to be weighed independently. Those weights are added together to get the total weight of the pair.
- One Stop Weigh Method: The truck and trailer are driven onto a platform equipped with a series of scales. The scales are connected to an electronic controller that automatically calculates the total weight of the pair.
- Weigh in Motion Weigh Method: The truck and trailer are driven across a platform equipped with a series of scales that weigh the pair while the truck is moving. The truck must slow down, but it is not required to come to a complete stop.
Drivers of overweight trucks often face expensive fees as a deterrent against driving overloaded. Many of those fees are passed on to the company that employs the driver. Here are some of the fees involved in Missouri:
- $25.50 for 6,000 pounds or less to $1,719.50 for over 78,000 pounds
- $7.50 per semi trailer
Additional fees may be charged in accordance with National laws and fees for running with an overweight truck and trailer combination.
Types of Accidents due to Overloaded Trucks
Overloaded trucks pose a risk to the driver of the truck as well as every other driver on the road. Load instability and improper security measures are just the beginning of the issues. A heavy load makes the truck more difficult to handle and stop. An unbalanced load will cause the truck to sway and may cause the trailer to roll over in steep curves.
- Heavy Loads: A 20,000 pound truck hauling a 50,000 pound trailer with cargo is very common on our roadways. That means that the average tractor trailer weighs in at approximately 70,000 to 75,000 pounds of the 80,000 pound limit. Trailers that are loaded past legal capacity create a dangerous situation for the truck driver and everyone around them.
- Speeding: Speed limits are set with good road conditions and proper driving conditions in mind. Rain and other inclement weather requires more attention and slower speeds. Tractor trailers are difficult to stop and difficult to control in good conditions – wet or icy roads make it even more dangerous.
- Flatbed Trucks: Flatbed trucks are often used for cargo that doesn’t require shelter or boxes for protection. The cargo is simply secured with tie downs and other straps. Cargo must be properly secured to prevent it from falling off of the truck and into traffic.
- Shifting Cargo: The cargo in any trailer has to be secured or it can shift and cause instability with the truck and trailer. Stacks of cargo that go too high or too wide for stability are a danger to both the driver and other drivers on the road.
Crashes resulting from overloaded tractor-trailers are the result of corporations trying to make more money by paying less. Overloading these large commercial trucks allows trucking companies to make less trips, pay drivers less, and save money. Unfortunately, they all too often result in devastating truck accidents which cost lives.
Trucking Accident Prevention Laws are Not New
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created and complied a long list of safety rules that all commercial motor vehicle drivers must obey. These rules and regulations are designed to ensure trucking companies and drivers are using the nation’s roads in a safe manner, and not just to make a profit. Given the devastating nature of tractor trailer accidents, it is important large semi-truck drivers pay attention to all applicable laws and regulations.
How to Find The Right Trucking Accident Lawyer
Hiring an attorney after a trucking accident is extremely important. Taking on a large trucking company requires an injury firm with experience and determination to ensure you obtain nothing less than full reimbursement for your harms and losses. These large commercial vehicles must be inspected immediately after the crash to ensure evidence is not hidden or destroyed.
The Dixon Injury Firm in St. Louis can help you gather the evidence you need to get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you’ve sustained during an overloaded truck accident. Contact the tractor-trailer accident lawyers at The Dixon Injury Firm by calling 314-409-7060 or toll free at 855-40-CRASH, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All initial consultations are FREE and there is never a fee for our services unless we win your case.