Different Commercial Truck Weight Limits

Trucks and trailers are important tools in transporting goods throughout the country. However, when these vehicles are not properly used, negligence can lead to dangerous 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 these limits are ignored or forgotten, it can constitute negligence that can be answered with a personal injury claim or lawsuit. That’s why it’s essential to know commercial truck weight limits before you do any hauling.

Let’s take a look at a variety of different types of trucks and trailers and how much weight they’re approved to carry.

Use these links to jump to a specific commercial truck weight limit:

Heavy-Duty Pickup Truck Weight Limits

Pick up truck

These trucks are commonly used to haul large loads, either for work or personal trips, and 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.

  • A half-ton pickup can hold 3,000 pounds of cargo.
  • A three-quarter-ton pickup can carry 4,000 pounds of cargo.
  • A one-ton pickup can carry 6,000 pounds of cargo.
  • Pickups can also haul hitched trailers. The maximum weight limits of these are called Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and are based on the make and model of the pickup truck. It is required that operators check their owners’ manual to calculate these totals.

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.

Weighing Shipping Containers & Container Weight Limits

Container Truck

Containers 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 can cause trucking accidents and damage to the transport vehicle itself. Data shows that as many as 20% of containers are improperly weighed or mis-declared.

  • For a 20-foot container, 44,000 pounds can be loaded inside.
  • In a 40-foot 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.

Length Limit of Semis Pulling Multiple Trailers

Double Container Truck

Semi-trucks 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 a truck-tractor-semi trailer or truck-tractor semi-trailer-trailer combination as a whole, but rather the individual parts.

Dump Truck Weight Limits

Dump Truck

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

Box Truck Weight Limits

Box Truck

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 limit is that anything over 26,000 pounds requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate.

Overweight Truck Accident Claims & Lawsuits

When owners and operators of trucks ignore these maximum truck weight limits, it often causes hazards for them and others on the road. An exceeded weight limit can cause the truck to tip over, swerve uncontrollably, or require a much longer braking distance to come to a complete stop. When these trucks are carrying more than they’re allowed, negligence has occurred, and legal action should be taken.

If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident, you should call an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. Contact the Indianapolis truck accident attorneys at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell to put strong legal champions on your side.

Dial (317) 245-3709 or reach out to us online to set up a free consultation.