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The dangers of an overloaded tractor-trailer

| Sep 18, 2020 | personal injury |

Thousands of semi-trucks thunder along I-80 and other California highways every day. These vehicles can weigh more than 80,000 pounds when loaded and cannot stop quickly. Drivers may have difficulty maneuvering around traffic and other obstacles. When collisions occur between a big truck and a typical passenger sedan, which weighs less than 4,000 pounds, the consequences are often devastating. We frequently represent clients who have catastrophic injuries from an accident with a semi-truck.

The Association for the Work Truck Industry reports that the gross vehicle weight rating, which includes the body, chassis, auxiliary equipment and payload, represents the maximum legal truck weight. The gross axle weight and gross combined weight rating are also considered when characterizing whether a commercial truck is overweight, which can affect various vehicle aspects.


Braking, steering and maneuverability are all affected when the load exceeds maximum limits. If a tractor-trailer exceeds the allowable weight on the rear axle, the load becomes imbalanced. One consequence of the overload is that stopping distance may dramatically increase. When moving at highway speeds, it could take more than 200 feet for the truck to stop after the driver applies the brakes. The imbalance can also make it difficult for the driver to steer the vehicle in a reliable, predictable manner.


An overloaded vehicle carries a broad range of consequences in addition to reduced drivability. When a big truck exceeds legal capacity repeatedly, components may wear down faster or break more often, causing excessive downtime and a reduced useable life span. As weight increases, so too does the number of accidents. The size and weight difference between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles can result in accidents involving multiple automobiles. If you or a loved one has severe injuries due to trucking company negligence, such as overloading a truck, you may have grounds for a claim.