Why Trucks are Causing Catastrophic Crashes on U.S. Roadways

Overloaded trucks on U.S. highways are a leading cause of catastrophic crashes that result in serious injuries and fatalities. In Illinois, they contribute to many accidents and personal injuries handled by a Chicago truck accident lawyer.

Over the past several years, high fuel and labor costs have led many trucking companies and owner-operators to push the limits of vehicle weight. Many trucks are overloaded to reduce the number of required trips and save on operating expenses, but overloading reduces truck stability and puts motorists and pedestrians at risk for serious personal injuries. A Chicago truck accident lawyer commonly sees serious accidents caused by large overweight trucks on Illinois roadways.

Truck Weight Regulations-Gross Vehicle Weight

The federal government mandates maximum gross vehicle weight (maximum weight) limits for trucks that travel on Class I Interstates. The gross vehicle weight may be lower on state highways and local roads. The Federal government does not issue permits for oversize or overweight vehicles. This is a State option. Federal weight limits are:

  • 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight
  • 20,000 pound single axle weight
  • 34,000 pound tandem axle weight

Accident Risks for Overweight Trucks

  • Braking – An overweight truck creates added pressure on the braking system, especially when going up or down a hill. A properly weighted truck going 55 mph can stop within 145 feet, but it will take an overloaded truck going the same speed 250 feet to come to a full stop.
  • Steering – Overweight trucks are difficult to control, especially when turning corners or going around curves. When the rear end is overloaded and heavier than other sections of the truck, the back of the truck can easily jack knife out of control and into nearby motorists and pedestrians.
  • Blowouts – When a truck is overweight, tire pressure increases pushing air out against the sidewalls. As the sidewall expands and weakens, the risk of a blowout increases. A steel belted radial flying off a semi-truck tire at highway speeds is likely to cause fatalities.
  • Rollovers – Overweight and unevenly distributed trucks are prone to rollover accidents. The increased momentum of the trailer creates a torque force on the entire rig, and the unbalanced center of gravity increases the risk of a rollover. Catastrophic injuries handled by a truck accident lawyer show an urgent need for improved trucking safety to prevent accidents and injuries.