By: Allan M. Siegel
Trucking operators, drivers, and any distributors or companies that work
with operators to load their fleet have legal obligations to comply with
regulations designed to keep others safe from harm that can and should
be avoided. This includes regulations regarding vehicle weight limits.
When they fail to abide by the law, they create the potential for serious
hazards and preventable
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our Washington, DC truck
accident lawyers fight for victims injured in wrecks involving tractor-trailers
and other commercial vehicles across DC, Virginia, and Maryland. We know
the regulations companies in the trucking industry must abide by, including
cargo securement rules, and we have the experience and resources to hold them liable for
the damages victims suffer.
Vehicle Weight Limits & Increased Risks
Federal regulations capping vehicle weight vary depending on the type of
truck and its length (for example, box trucks must meet lower weight limits
than 18-wheelers) and the type of goods being transported (i.e. consumer
goods, wood logs, concrete structures, and hazardous materials). While
limits can vary, the maximum weight limit for a traditional tractor-trailer
is 80,000 pounds – a limit that has been in place since 1982. At
that size, commercial trucks are 20 to 30 times heavier than most standard
vehicles, and take 20 to 40 percent longer to stop.
Trucking companies and others with legal responsibilities for loading cargo
may exceed these limits out of negligence, or because they want to maximize
their profit margins by transporting as much cargo as possible. When they
do, however, they not only commit violations, but also create a number
of risks, including:
Decreased Mobility – Overloaded trucks are slower to stop and more difficult to maneuver
quickly, especially in collision-critical situations. The additional weight
can lead to tip-overs, jackknifing, and rear-end collisions, most notably
in slowed traffic and construction zones when trucks are not able to come
to a complete stop before hitting vehicles in front of them. When churning
up or down hills, heavy trucks also run the risk of stalling or brake failure.
More Devastating Crashes – Even though the number of commercial trucks on U.S. roads is far
below the number of standard vehicles, they account for over 11% of all
auto accident fatalities. Trucks that exceed weight limits not only increase
the likelihood of crashes, but also the severity of those wrecks, which
means greater risks for
catastrophic injuries and death.
Road Damage – Tractor-trailers cause a great deal of wear and tear on our highways,
roads, and bridges. Although the damage they cause is cumulative, heavy
trucks also pose risks for damages roads while driving over them. This
can create hazards such as potholes, debris, and collapse that cause trucks
to lose control and crash, or cause other drivers to do the same.
As we have discussed in other blogs, the trucking industry has turned a
blind eye to these statistics and concerns by continually waging efforts
to rollback regulations and
increase truck weight limits to 91,000 pounds. That 14 percent increase in weight directly conflicts
with risk assessments and data showing steady
spikes in deaths on American roads, and is a prime example of how the industry put profits
Who Can be Held Liable for Accidents Caused by Overloaded Trucks
Violations are a clear example of negligence. When trucking companies,
drivers, and others who may load commercial vehicles negligently or willfully
violate weight limits, they put everyone at risk, and can be held liable
for any damages they cause in resulting accidents. Our legal team at Chaikin,
Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is dedicated to holding corporations
and individuals accountable for this type of disregard for the safety
of other, and to securing the justice and compensation victims need after
suffering preventable harm.
If you have a truck accident case you wish to discuss with a member of
contact us for a FREE consultation.