The federal government, through the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that the trucks that operate on our roadways carry loads weighing no more than 80,000 lbs. While a few exceptions and higher weight limits apply to certain vehicles, most trucks must follow this 80,000-lb. cargo limit.
But over the course of the past few years, interest groups for the trucking industry have repeatedly lobbied Congress for increased weight limits. Their demands include raising the cargo limit to 91,000 or even 97,000 lbs.
If Congress were to pass legislation enacting such a measure, it would be a disaster for highway safety and our declining infrastructure. Each year, approximately 44,000 accidents occur due to sleep loss. According to the CDC, many of these accidents are truck accidents caused by sleep loss. When you increase the load carried by trucks, the more serious these accidents become and there are greater fatalities on our roadways. And this is without taking into account the state of our infrastructure.
A 2017 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers grades our infrastructure at D+. Engineers estimate that a fully loaded truck—a five-axle rig weighing 80,000 pounds, the interstate maximum—causes more damage to a highway than 5,000 cars.
Some road planners say that this damage is even higher, that it would take close to 10,000 cars to equal the damage caused by one heavy truck. When the trucks are overloaded, as many of them are, the damage is exponentially worse. Increasing a truck’s weight to 90,000 pounds creates a 42% increase in road wear.
And this road wear is already happening. Enforcement for the current 80,000 lb. cargo limit is already lacking. There are far fewer cargo weighing stations than what’s needed to enforce trucks to comply with the existing weight limit. Furthermore, many weighing stations are operational only part-time, whereas trucks are on the roads all hours of the day.
As a result, often times trucking companies try to bypass regulations and transport overloaded cargo. When this happens, it is our community members that suffer. As drivers, passengers, bikers, or pedestrians, we share the road with trucks every day. When overloaded trucks cause accidents and injury to us or our loved ones, know that you’re not alone. The Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. will fight for you.
With over 50 years of combined experience, our truck accident attorneys in Chicago are committed to getting you results. Whether it’s a large chain trucking company or a small independent carrier that caused you harm, we will get you the justice and compensation you deserve. Check out our recent verdicts and settlements, or call us at 1 (312) 384-1920 or 1 (800) 693-1LAW, or reach us by email.