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Overloaded Trucks: Dangers & 4 Ways To Spot One

February 20, 2018 by Steven M. Gursten

Is This Truck Overloaded? 4 Ways to Spot an Overloaded Truck.

Even if a truck load doesn’t exceed the weight limit, it can still be overweight

Overloaded truck accidents are extremely dangerous.  That’s why there are federal and state laws regulating load limits in transport. We wrote this post today to help commercial truck drivers with DOT pre-trip inspections and to help the truck companies and safety directors that monitor these important safety rules.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits transport loads to 80,000 lbs on interstate highways.  Violation of these laws can result in some pretty steep fines.

Beyond that, trucks are designed for a given application.  When a commercial truck is overweight, it puts a lot of stress on the vehicle. It’s costly to operate and maintain overloaded trucks.

The maximum load weight, called the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is calculated based on numerous factors, such as load placement, the vehicle’s frame, powertrain rating, suspension, its brakes and more.

But be wary; even if your load does not exceed the weight limit of your truck, your load can still be overweight. How is that possible?  Here are a few different ways to spot an overweight vehicle which can help prevent the dangers of overloaded truck accidents.

4 Ways To Spot An Overloaded Truck

  1. There are weight limits on the road itself.  The weight limitations on the truck are independent of the maximum allowable weight on a road or highway.  The weight limit on the road may be determined by either federal or state law. So, be aware of these rules. Violation can result in a fine, even where your vehicle is safely within the vehicle load limit.
  2. Trailer weight limitations are not the same as the truck’s GVWR rating. There is another weight limit that your vehicle might be subject to.  In addition to the GVWR, there is also a limit for any trailer that your vehicle can pull.  If your vehicle is within its GVWR rating, your load will still be considered overweight if the trailer exceeds the gross trailer weight rating.
  3. There is a gross axle weight rating as well (GAWR).  The gross axle weight rating is the amount of weight the axles on the truck can safely transport.  The axle rating is generally a factor used to determine the GVWR. But sometimes, lower grade components are used in the manufacture of the axle, and its rating may be lowered.  Be careful not to exceed this limit either. Exceeding the axle limit is extremely dangerous.
  4. The vehicle may be accidentally overweight.  It is critical that operators and companies are aware of the relevant weight limitations.  Overweight trucks are dangerous because they experience trouble braking, steering, and in an emergency situation where the truck may have to swerve to avoid danger, there is a very high probability the excess weight will cause the trucker to lose control.  The added weight adds momentum and increases the force of impacts. This along with having a higher center of gravity means overload truck accidents have a increased likelihood of becoming a rollover accident.

Please, do not cut corners and overload your vehicles.  Also be aware of weight limitations that might applicable so you do not accidentally overload your vehicle.  Causing a dangerous overloaded truck accident and hurting people is just not worth it.

Tip for truck accident attorneys: after a serious crash has occurred, one helpful tip is for an attorney to hire an expert to perform a careful inspection of the truck that includes whether it was overweight.  Most police investigators will not weigh these trucks unless there was a fatality, and even then in more rural areas and in smaller cities, police departments with limited resources may treat this as more of a routine traffic crash, instead of as a detailed inspection of the truck by a qualified enforcement officer.

Overloaded Trucks: Dangers & 4 Ways To Spot One

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