Safely sharing Washington highways with big trucks often requires focus and defensive driving techniques. However, if a truck doesn’t comply with maximum weight limits, a devastating accident can occur, despite precautions.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the safety regulations for commercial trucks help reduce collisions and prevent injuries and fatalities. Statutes target high-risk carriers with the goal of improving operating and equipment standards.
Truck overload laws
Trucking companies that fail to meet FMCSA regulations risk significant fines. Several regulations address the loading of cargo, such as the following:
- Permits and requirements for transporting unusually large objects, steel pipes or logs, heavy machinery and concrete
- Guidelines regarding the posting of warnings for loads longer or wider than the truck
- Methods for securing cargo by using dunnage or dunnage bags, cradles, tiedowns and wedges
The Association for the Work Truck Industry reports that the gross vehicle weight rating dictates the load limit, which takes the number of axles, brakes, powertrain, suspension and frame into consideration. Drivers who haul loads that exceed the GVWR face an increased risk of an accident.
Dangers of an overloaded truck
The maximum legal limit for commercial trucks is 80,000 pounds. Truckers who drive these heavy loads typically receive extra training. It helps them understand how to distribute the cargo weight evenly and how the rig may respond in different driving conditions. Inexperienced or improperly trained drivers may be liable if they are in an accident due to an overloaded rig.
A load too heavy for the axles, brakes and other mechanical components may result in the river losing control of the truck. If a trailer swings forward and to the side violently, it may jackknife. In situations where the load causes too much pressure on the brake system and tires, the stopping time may increase. In either case, the result may be an accident that involves several cars, catastrophic injuries and fatalities.