Different Commercial Trucks & Weight Limits

Trucks and trailers are an important tool in transporting goods throughout the country. However, when these vehicles are not properly used, negligence can lead to dangerous and deadly accidents. Each type of commercial vehicle or trailer has various capabilities when it comes to the amount of cargo and weight it can safely move. When those responsible for operating these vehicles ignore or are unaware of these limitations, this is a prime example of negligence. Let’s take a look at a variety of different types of trucks and trailers and how much weight they’re approved to carry.

Graphic of a heavy duty pickup pulling a trailer

Heavy Duty Pickup Truck Weight Limits

These trucks are commonly purchased by those who haul large loads, either in their personal lives or for their work. These vehicles can vary greatly in size and design. However, their overall carrying weight for the bed of the truck depends on the vehicle’s starting weight.

2 graphics of cargo trailers with single and double axles

Single Axle Trailer and Double Axle Trailer Weight Limits

Trailers can be hooked up to a pickup truck or other vehicle with towing capabilities. Single axle trailers have a single axle with a wheel connected on each end. Double axle trailers have two axles to disperse greater weight, meaning double trailers are capable of handling heavier loads. Federal and Indiana state maximum truck weight laws require that: 

  • Single axles are limited to 20,000 pounds
  • Double axles are limited to 34,000 pounds. 
  • The steering axle is limited to 12,000 pounds.

Graphic of a semi that has been loaded with a container

Weighing Shipping Containers & Container Weight Limits

While containers are not a vehicle, they are loaded onto semis for transport all over the United States. The containers are weighed at the port of arrival or in the facility they were packed in, using one of two legally approved methods as laid forth by the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Treaty

  1. Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment
  2. Weighing all packages and cargo items, including packing materials and the tare weight of the container, then adding the sum of all weights together to provide a verified weight. Estimating weights is not permitted under the SOLAS revisions

Keeping track of these weights and measurements is a big undertaking. Containers must be loaded onto a truck using one of three approved container loading methods

  • By tilting the truck bed (similar to how a dump truck drops off trash)
  • Placing directly onto a flat truck bed with a crane or forklift
  • With the use of a chassis, which attaches to the truck bed for easier loading and unloading 

Incorrectly weighed or loaded containers are a form of negligence. Overly-heavy containers loaded onto trucks could contribute to deadly trucking accidents on the highway, as well as damage to the transport vehicle itself. Data shows that as many as 20% of containers are improperly weighed or misdeclared.

  • For a 20 inch container, 44,000 pounds can be loaded inside. 
  • In a 40 inch container, 44,500 pounds can be loaded inside.
  • Regardless, they can’t cause the truck to exceed the maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds.

Graphic of two trailers hitched to one semi

Length Limit of Semis Pulling Multiple Trailers

The semi trucks you see on highways can often pull multiple trailers behind them. While the maximum gross weight of the combined trailers is still 80,000 pounds, there are length restrictions involved as well. It should be noted that there is no length restriction on truck-tractor-semi trailer or truck-tractor semi trailer-trailer combination as a whole, but rather the individual parts.

Graphic of an empty dump truck

Dump Truck Weight Limits

Dump  trucks are vehicles used both by a city for trash collection, as well as privately by businesses and citizens for hauling debris or materials from one place to another. These vehicles can vary in style and size, depending on the manufacturer. 

Graphic of a box truck

Box Truck Weight Limits

Box trucks are commonly used both by companies and individuals for tasks like moving furniture or equipment. These include rentals, such as U-Haul trucks. 

  • Box trucks vary in size and length, anywhere from 16 feet to 26 feet long. 
  • These are available for anyone with a valid driver’s license to operate. 
  • The maximum gross weight for box trucks is 26,000 pounds
  • The reason for this is that anything over 26,000 pounds requires a CDC license to operate.

When owners and operators of trucks ignore these maximum weight limits, it can cause dangerous issues for them and other drivers on the road. They can tip over, cause the driver to swerve, or prevent stopping in time. Regardless, when these trucks are carrying more than they’re allowed, negligence has occurred. If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident, you need an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, contact the Indiana truck accident attorneys at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell.