Maximum Truck Weight Limits in Texas

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Tractor-trailers haul tons of cargo across Texas every day. Federal and state regulations limit how much weight trucks can safely carry and set requirements for occasions when trucks transport oversized loads.

Trucks that exceed the maximum legal weight are harder to control and pose a hazard to other motorists. Even experienced truck drivers will find it more difficult to stop an overloaded semi truck quickly. If the load shifts in transit, it can alter the truck’s center of gravity, leading to a rollover accident.

When an overloaded truck causes a serious accident, it is often because the truck driver, trucking company, or a third party fails to abide by weight restrictions. After an accident caused by an overloaded truck in the San Antonio, Texas, area, a personal injury lawyer with The Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover can help you seek compensation for your injuries. Attorney Troy A. Brookover has more than 30 years of experience representing victims of car-truck collisions in San Antonio and surrounding areas.

To schedule a free consultation to discuss the accident that injured you, contact us today at at (210) 226-2000 or fill out our online form.

Understanding the Risks of Overloaded Trucks

A vehicle’s size and weight dictate the forces that people in another vehicle experience during a collision. Upon impact, a heavier vehicle will push a lighter one backward. That puts less force on the people inside the heavier vehicle and more on the people in the lighter vehicle. The magnitude of those forces relates directly to the risk of injury. As a result, most people injured and killed in truck-car collisions are occupants of the smaller vehicles.

Heavier vehicles require more distance to slow down and stop than lighter vehicles.

Because of the danger that large trucks pose due to their size and weight, federal and state regulators set maximum legal weight limits for commercial trucks.

Texas Truck Weight Limits

The laws governing commercial truck size and weight in the State of Texas are found in Texas Transportation Code Ann. §621.001 through §623.343. The gross weight of vehicles in regular operations (operating without a special permit) is governed by the state axle weight limits and the state bridge formula. In summary, Texas truck weight limits for vehicles in regular operations are:

  • Single axle: 20,000 lbs.
  • Tandem axle: 34,000 lbs.
  • Gross vehicle weight (with cargo): 80,000 lbs.

Texas Transportation Code allows a 5 percent tolerance on axle weight and a 5 percent tolerance on gross vehicle weight (GVW) up to 80,000 lbs.

Texas also allows trucking companies a number of exemptions to weight limits. For example, a ready-mixed concrete truck is allowed 23,000 lbs. on a single axle and 46,000 lbs. on a tandem axle on non-interstate public highways.

Texas also allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue permits for the operation of “superheavy or oversized equipment,” or non-divisible vehicles with a GVW of up to 120,000 lbs., on state highways.

The Dangers of Excess Truck Weight

There are several safety risks when a truck is overloaded and its weight exceeds the maximum permitted weight, including:

  • The truck’s speed increases when descending a hill, reducing maneuverability and requiring longer distances to stop, potentially preventing the driver from calculating stopping distance accurately to avoid a collision.
  • The truck’s center of gravity rises, increasing the potential for the truck to tilt when it hits a bump and overturn.
  • Pressure on the truck’s tires increases, raising the potential for a tire blowout.
  • Cargo may fall onto the roadway, which can lead to secondary accidents as other drivers hit cargo or swerve to avoid the hazard.

Real-World Consequences of Overloaded Trucks

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent edition of Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts reported 20 fatal accidents in 2021 caused by “overloading or improper loading of vehicles with passengers or cargo.”

This was an increase from 11 such fatalities in 2020 and 12 in 2019.

Recognizing Overloaded Trucks

You may recognize an overloaded truck by its sagging rear end. The extra weight also bulges the truck’s tires. Tire tracks that are wider than normal are another sign of an overloaded truck.

If parts of the truck are visibly bent or broken or the truck emits a squeaking sound, these are signs of carrying too much weight and the excessive stress overloading has put on its suspension system.

Protecting Yourself and Others

Reporting Overloaded Trucks in Texas

If you suspect that a truck or truck driver represents an immediate threat to other drivers, you can report the truck to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) by phoning 1-888-DOT-SAFT (368-7238) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by filing your complaint online.

Know Your Rights After a Truck Accident

If you have been injured in a collision with a large truck, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your medical bills and other accident-related expenses. If you file a personal injury claim, you may demand compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses, including hospital and doctor’s bills, prescription drug costs, physical therapy fees, and medical or mobility equipment, if needed.
  • Lost income, including lost wages from missed work due to the accident and loss of future earning potential and job benefits if you are unable to return to work.
  • Pain and suffering, including physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional suffering.
  • Property damage, including the cost to repair your vehicle or reimburse you for its pre-accident value if it is declared totaled.
  • Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, may be awarded in a truck accident lawsuit if the defendant’s extremely reckless behavior caused the accident.

An attorney experienced with car and truck accidents can do the investigative work needed to demonstrate how truck overloading contributed to the crash that left you with serious injuries.

Get Legal Help From Our Experienced Truck Accident Lawyers in San Antonio

Truck drivers who operate tractor-trailers on Texas roadways have a responsibility to follow the rules for truck weights and capacity. When trucking companies operate overloaded trucks, they jeopardize road safety and should be held accountable.

If you have been injured in a truck accident in San Antonio caused by an overloaded semi truck, contact our truck accident lawyers today at at (210) 226-2000 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We will review your case and discuss your legal options.

Troy Brookover was born and raised in San Antonio. He established the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover so that he could make a difference in the community and help accident victims recover compensation to get back on their feet after being injured by someone else’s negligence. He brings more than 30 years of legal experience to the table, which he leverages in every case.