Why Does the Government Regulate the Weight of Semi-Trucks?

The government regulates big rigs because they have become iconic as a staple of transportation. Trucking businesses have become bigger with the age of the internet and internet orders. However, semi-trucks are massive, heavier, and longer than other vehicles on the road. So, they can be intimidating to other drivers, especially in massive traffic.

If semi-trucks become too heavy, they pose a danger to other road users due to their weight and height distribution, as well as other features that make them as unique as they are. If you got into a truck accident because of a driver or trucking company that violated the government’s weight regulations on the weight of semi-trucks, consult a San Antonio personal injury lawyer.

They can investigate the weight violation and other circumstances surrounding the accident that caused your injuries and help you create a strong claim. By law, semi-trailers have a weight limit they can’t exceed.

18-Wheelers Have Weight Limits to Protect the Public

An 18-wheeler is a semi-truck with a trailer attached to it, also known as a tractor-trailer unit. Once the two are connected, the total number of wheels is 18. A semi-truck hooked up to an empty trailer weighs about 35,000 pounds and between 10,000 and 25,000 without a trailer. The maximum weight allowed for a loaded trailer in the United States is 80,000 pounds.

So, the weight of an 18-wheeler is approximately 35,000 pounds when empty. It should be at most 80,000 pounds when loaded. In a truck accident where the truck was overloaded, an experienced San Antonio truck accident lawyer could help you determine who to hold liable for the injuries from the truck being overloaded.

Legal Cargo Payloads for 18-Wheelers of Big Rigs?

As stated, big rigs have a maximum weight limit of up to 80,000 pounds, including cargo. However, the actual cargo amount can vary depending on the weight and type of truck when empty. Generally, 18-wheelers are limited to the following weights:

  • 48,000 pounds of cargo for flatbed trailers
  • 44,000 to 45,000 pounds for dry vans trailers
  • 42,500 to 44,000 pounds for refrigerated trailers

The different payloads across the three most common trailer types are because of the trailer’s weight. Flatbeds often comprise aluminum parts, making them very light and offering the highest possible payload within the 80,000-pound maximum limit.

On the hand, dry vans only comprise a fiberglass body on top of the trailer, adding weight and reducing their payload by a few thousand pounds. Refrigerated trailers are heavier because they require insulation and fiberglass to keep freight frozen. The massive refrigeration motor on the front and an extra diesel tank under the trailer make the trailers dangerously heavy.

How Are Big Rigs Weighed to Ensure They Stay Within the Legal Limits?

Most truck shops have scales managed by third parties for a fee, allowing a truck driver to weigh his cargo according to each axle group and the overall weight of the big rig. Some shippers also provide weighing scales on-site to enable truckers to weigh while on the highway.

Additionally, truckers must have their rigs weighed at government-scale sites, usually positioned at entry and exit points of each state on the interstate highway system. Mobile weigh scales are available at various points throughout the country as provided by state transport agencies.

What Happens If an 18-Wheeler is Over the Weight Limit?

A few pounds above the weight limit of an 18-wheeler may be fine. Most weight stations will force truck drivers to stop their operations if their trucks exceed the recommended weight by over 6,000 pounds.

In an accident, the consequences can be severe for the victims. If you have been injured, let an experienced truck accident lawyer in San Antonio investigate the case to help you file a compensation claim. Drivers who violate the 18-wheeler weight limit also risk getting hefty fines.

What Kinds of Cargo Do Semi-Trucks Carry?

Semi-trucks carry various heavy items that must be moved from one place to another, including the following:

  • Refrigerated goods
  • Motor vehicles
  • Dry goods
  • Construction equipment
  • Furniture
  • Boats
  • Hazardous liquids and gases

Different trucks are designed to carry different types of cargo. For example, flatbeds are best suited for large construction materials and other equipment. A tanker is designed to ferry liquid products like chemicals and petroleum, while double-deck trailers carry new cars to the market.

What Causes Semi-Truck Crashes?

Various reasons contribute to truck collisions. The truck driver or other drivers on the road may be liable for the crash due to the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Reckless driving, such as overtaking on the wrong side of the road
  • Being in the wrong lane
  • Being pressured to meet tight deadlines
  • Distracted driving, such as texting or eating while driving

Issues with the load can also lead to truck crashes, including the following:

  • Improperly secured loads that shift from their position and cause truck imbalances. Shifting cargo can make it harder to steer and maneuver and can lead to jackknifes and rollovers, posing hazards to other road users.
  • Overloaded trucks carrying too much weight take longer to stop in the face of hazards, causing deadly rear-end collisions. Too much weight can also make an 18-wheeler accelerate uncontrollably at downhill speeds, leading to a loss of control.

If you’ve been involved in a truck collision, it may not be easy to determine who is liable for your injuries. The answer depends on the circumstances around the accident, and an experienced truck accident lawyer in San Antonio can help you file a legal claim against the negligent party.

An Aggressive Accident Lawyer Helping You Pursue Compensation After a Truck Accident

Truck accidents happen mainly due to truckers’ carelessness or the negligence of other drivers on the road. Truck accidents may also occur because the load is way above the recommended limits or improperly secured on the truck. Whatever the cause of the accident, it would help to consult a skilled truck accident lawyer in San Antonio to provide legal assistance.

Our law firm has a skilled and aggressive personal injury lawyer who can provide the legal support, counsel, and representation you need in pursuing legal action. Our attorney can help you hold the negligent driver or other parties liable for the injuries you sustained in the truck accident. Contact us to schedule a FREE case assessment.