Commercial truck weights are regulated by federal and state limits. Illinois officials set the state’s weight limits on the loads trucks can haul within the borders based on risk reduction. Overweight trucks compromise traffic safety and road conditions and may be a contributing factor in injury or fatality crashes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes that truck accidents are often caused by driver mistakes such as tractor trailers that have been overloaded. A truck accident attorney in Chicago may be aware of statistics that show a 43 percent increase in truck accident fatalities between 2009 and 2012.
Truck weight formula
According to the Illinois State Police the state’s tractor trailer load limit is based on a formula to measure and weigh different truck sizes and axle configurations accurately. The amount of weight allowed per axle is 20,000 pounds, and the first axle is always part of the tractor of the truck. A truck with two axles is limited to 40,000 pounds. When a truck has tandem axles, the number of feet between the axles determines how much load distribution is allowed between them. The limit for a tandem axle is 32,000 pounds. A truck with more axles can haul more weight, up to 80,000 pounds, which is also the federal limit.
Trucking companies, loading dock workers and drivers must determine the amount of weight carried by a vehicle before sending it out on the road. Fines on overloaded trucks are based on the amount of weight that exceeds the limit. A truck accident attorney in Chicago notes that, recently, Illinois doubled the fees for trucks that are carrying loads over 80,000 pounds.
The American Trucking Association has reported that a truck with a sixth axle has a more evenly distributed load and better braking capacity. The agency puts forth this information as evidence that trucks should be allowed to haul heavier loads. They also claim that this would reduce traffic on the roadways and increase traffic safety.
To test these theories, pilot programs in some states have increased the weight limits for trucks with six axles. The results are inconsistent and inconclusive. Some of the programs report increases in truck accident fatalities and others indicate that the numbers have gone down.
Motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks often cause greater injuries and fatalities to occupants of smaller vehicles because of the disparities in size, weight and ground clearance. Victims may suffer more severe injuries and incur higher medical bills. A truck accident attorney in Chicago may be able to provide legal assistance for individuals seeking compensation for expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering occurring in a truck crash.