Illinois, like many other states, restricts the weight of the largest commercial trucks traveling our nation’s highways to 80,000 pounds, although weights for smaller trucks are less, and are based on the number of axels. (Trucks are allowed to carry 20,000 pounds of freight per axel, according to the IDOT).
Other factors including a truck’s structure, including brakes, powertrains, frame, and suspension, are also taken into account when determing weight capacities.
Weigh stations along the sides of interstates are designed to keep truck weight limits in check, but many are often closed, allowing trucks that are overloaded to slip past.
But still, according to the Heavy Duty Trucking blog Trucking Info, statistics show that overloaded trucks remain one of the leading causes of truck-related accidents on the roads, because overweight trucks boost the chances that a driver may lose control of his or her vehicle. (Ref. 1)
What Are The Risks Associated With Overloaded Trucks?
Weight violations are serious business, and they can be a big risk on the road.
- Trucks that are overloaded are more difficult to maneuver, because the truck’s weight is located at the rear of the vehicle, far from the driver’s seat.
- Trucks are already slower to stop than passenger vehicles, and trucks that are overloaded have an even harder time coming to a stop, especially when traveling downhill, which can lead to serious consequences if a trucker has to brake suddenly to avoid some kind of road hazard. If a truck driver is speeding, it makes stopping even that much harder.
- Trucks that are carrying a heavy load are slower to accelerate, and may create road hazards for drivers that come upon a slow-moving semi unexpectedly.
- Trucks are more likely to roll over or jackknife in the event of an accident due to the higher center of gravity that larger, heavier loads create, and can potentially spill their load into the roadway, causing hazards for drivers traveling behind them.
- Too much cargo can also present problems for flatbed trucks, especially if materials are not properly anchored to the bed. Flying debris can cause serious accidents, injuries or fatalities if cargo fails to stay secured in transit, and heavy cargo can crush a small vehicle if it should happen to fall off a trailer.
- Trucks are designed to support a certain amount of weight, and overloaded trucks are more likely to experience equipment malfunctions due to the extra weight, including blown tires.
- Roads are also less likely to successfully withstand an overloaded truck. Heavy trucks can cause asphalt to crumble or even more seriously – push bridges or highway overpasses to their limits, putting other traffic seriously at risk if bridges or overpasses fail.
Less Loaded Trucks Are Safer Resulting in Less Injury and Death
For some trucking companies, the bottom line makes it easy to send overloaded trucks on trips, despite the risks. If trucks carry more cargo, they have to make fewer trips, saving not only on fuel costs, but also salary.
While it may not seem economical on the surface, according to a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, semis carring the maximum allowable load of 80,000 pounds of cargo have double the risk of being part of a fatal trucking accident compared to a commercial truck weighing just 50,000 pounds.
The study also found that overloaded trucks – those in excess of 100,000 pounds, especiall – are more likely to be involved in crashes that result in serious injury or death.
And the truckinginfo.com blogger was quick to point out that the wear and tear on trucks can create significant costs for companies due to the increased maintenance costs, especially since overloading is the top reason for unscheduled vehicle maintainence, according to surveys.
Who is Responsible for Ensuring That Trucks are Not Overloaded?
Before a truck is sent out on the road, the trucking company or the shipping company should have already determined whether or not the truck is in compliance with federal weight limits using in-house scales to track weight.
Staff should also be experienced in proper loading procedures in order to ensure that the truck’s load is not only withing the legal weight capacity, but also loaded and secured in such a way that it does not present a hazard to either the truck driver or to other drivers on the road.
In the event of an accident, trucking companies, truck drivers, shipping companies and careless weigh station officials are all at risk of a lawsuit if an overloaded tractor-trailer is involved in an accident.
Tragic Overweight Truck Accident on I-55 Results in Four Deaths – and Wrongful Death Personal Injury Claim
Back in July of 2014, a truck driver was speeding and failed to stop, flying through a construction zone and crashing into several cars. The accident resulted in the death of four people. The truck was found to be overweight, and an investigation determined that the logbooks were falsified. (Ref. 2)
Unfortunately, these overweight truck accidents do happen in Chicago and Illinois. Both the city of Chicago and the greater state of Illinois have lots of trucks driving on its roads. Chicago is a huge center for commerce and trade, and Illinois is commonly driven through when truckers are delivering goods across the United States. This makes this area a danger spot for overweight truck accidents and injury.
Were you or someone you know or love hurt in a truck accident in Illinois or Chicago? Was the truck overweight or overloaded? If you unsure and would like to find out more, contact our team today to get the help you need. We’ll vigorously fight the insurance company on your behalf to get you the maximum settlement you deserve. Most truck accident cases can be settled pre-litigation. However, on occasion a lawsuit has to filed. Making sure you have the truck right accident attorney on your side can make all the difference.