What Is the Maximum Weight Limit of an 18-Wheeler?

What Is the Maximum Weight Limit of an 18-WheelerTrucks have become iconic among vehicles in the United States, and big-rigs like 18-wheelers have become a staple of transportation. With the age of the internet and online ordering, the business of trucking has only become bigger. Anymore, it’s hard to drive on the highway and not see a semi-truck.

Semi-trucks are massive and can intimidate other drivers, especially in heavy traffic. Semi-trucks are much longer and heavier than other vehicles on the road. In fact, these trucks can weigh the equivalent of over ten cars.

Semi-trucks can become dangerous if they get too heavy, due to their weight and height distribution and other features of their unique makeup. These trucks are often packed to the brim, filled with products ordered by consumers. But, by law, semi-trailers have a weight limit they cannot exceed.

Structure of a Semi-Truck

How many axles do 18-wheelers have?

A typical car includes two axles to rotate the wheels. Larger vehicles may have more wheels, which requires more axles. The length of a semi-truck will vary, but the average size is 70 to 80 feet long. As a result, they require more wheels.

18-wheelers have 18 wheels, so they need additional axles. The trucks contain five axles. Four of them connect to the trailer, and the fifth one is upfront near where the driver sits.

How many gears does an 18-wheeler have?

When the engine produces power, the resulting energy cannot pass directly to the wheels. The gears of any vehicle are necessary for controlling the output power. They help increase the speed and raise the force needed to go over hills or other obstacles.

Since 18-wheelers are a lot bigger than the average car, the truck requires more gears to operate. In general, semi-trucks have twelve gears, though some of them may contain as few as nine, and others can have up to eighteen.

What is required of a semi-trailer bumper?

In the back of an 18-wheeler is the bumper. The United States Department of Transportation demands a semi-truck to meet specific requirements. The vehicles need to come with a rear impact guard. People also refer to rear impact guards as bumpers.

A semi-trailer bumper reduces the risk of serious injuries or death in the event of a rear-end collision. The purpose of the guard is to prevent other vehicles from sliding underneath the trailer. Of course, the bumpers have to meet the requirements provided by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard regulations.

How Much Does an 18-Wheeler Weigh?

Passenger vehicles are heavy, but it’s possible to push many a car in neutral slowly with the help of another person. You could never do so with a semi-truck. When connected to the trailer, the weight of an 18-wheeler with an empty trailer is around 35,000 pounds. Without a trailer, the truck may weigh anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 pounds.

18 Wheeler Weight Limit

If you have driven on the interstate before, you have likely noticed areas called weigh stations. The stations direct 18-wheelers off the road to take weight measurements. Truck drivers need to go to a weigh station before continuing on their route.

Legally, semi-trucks cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. The 80,000 pounds includes any cargo the vehicle carries on the road.

The 18-wheeler weight limit protects everyone on the road. The weight of a semi-trailer affects its ability to maneuver safely on the road. For example, heavier vehicles can’t make as quick lane changes, swerves, or abrupt stops, necessary to avoid accidents in many cases.

What Is the Maximum Weight Limit Per Axle?

In addition to limitations on total weight, federal law limits the per-axle weight of semi-trucks. Too much may affect the ability of an axle to operate or could damage the part. The weight per axle varies depending on their locations.

Steering axles have a maximum limit of 12,000 pounds. The trailer and the drives should weigh no more than 34,000.

What Happens If You Exceed Payload Capacity?

If a semi-truck is a few pounds over the weight limit, it might not be a concern. Most weigh stations force drivers to stop their operations if they are more than 6,000 pounds over the maximum limit.

Exceeding maximum weight limits can carry other serious consequences. The cargo may arrive late. The driver cannot continue until another truck arrives to unload the extra weight. The delay could cost them and the company valuable time and money. If the product arrives late or not at all, the company’s relationship with their customer might be strained.

A truck driver might even go to jail for an overweight 18-wheeler. Some states have laws that punish drivers with as much as two months of jail time. The county’s court may decide to revoke the truck driver’s commercial driver’s license as well.

Fines are common for the violation of the 18 wheeler weight limit. The amount a driver needs to pay is different from place to place. In some states, you may receive a fine of up to $16,000. Others can charge the trucker’s employer up to $10,000 for their trucks exceeding weight limitations. Repeat offenders may pay double or triple in most places.

What Happens if You Do Not Stop at Weigh Stations?

George Salinas
Truck Accident Attorney, George Salinas

Time is valuable, which is why truck drivers do not like to make many stops. Weigh stations may appear troublesome, but they are necessary. Each state has its own rules regarding weigh stations. In general, commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds have to go to a station. Even empty semi-trailers and bobtails have to stop.

The only exceptions are closed weigh stations or if you get a green light with a PrePass. Year by year, surveillance cameras become more frequent on roadways, so officers can get an image of a truck that fails to stop at a weigh station. The authorities may contact the company, which could result in the driver losing their job. Depending on the state, an officer can issue a fine of up to $300, but the amount could increase if they find anything wrong with the truck’s equipment. In some cases, truckers may get their licenses suspended.

If a trucker caused an accident, a truck accident lawyer can check to see if the 18-wheeler carried more than the maximum load—and if so, whether that constitutes negligence that can lead to compensation for your injuries.

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