Roads in the United States are regulated in a number of ways, one of them concerning the weight of trucks and semis. Regulations are set on both the federal and state level and must be adhered to. It is common to see weigh stations along interstates for the purpose of weighing trucks to make sure that they are within the limitations.
There are a few reasons that trucks have weight limitations on roads and need to be properly weighed. The main reason is safety. Roads can only handle a certain amount of weight, especially in weaker spots such as bridges and overpasses; therefore, no vehicle can be over the weight limit of the weakest point on the road. Additionally, cargo that is too heavy can be dangerous to both the driver and other vehicles on the road. A truck that is carrying too much weight can make it difficult to brake and maneuver, posing a danger when trying to slow down or go down a hill.
The other two reasons for weighing trucks are taxes and profitability. Carriers pay taxes for the amount of stress put on the roads, and the weight of the trucks is used to calculate the taxes owed. As for profitability, many goods are valued based on their weight; therefore, weight is important in ensuring fair trade and increasing profits.
There are three different weights for trucks regulated by each state. The first is the maximum gross vehicle weight is the weight of the vehicle specified by the manufacturer including its chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, accessories, drivers, passengers and cargo. The maximum single axle weight is the amount of weight allowed on any one axle. The maximum tandem axle weight is the weight allowed on any tandem axle.
Trucks can be weighed by using wheel-weighers, concrete decks, portable truck scales, digital scales and more. Trucks that are found to be overweight at a weigh stations can face several consequences including paying fines up to $65 per pound overweight and, in some states, arresting the driver. It is important that each truck is weighed before departing on its route to avoid these repercussions.
The federal vehicle weight limits are 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, 20,000 pounds on a single axle, and 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group. States, however, often have different limits.
The table below has each state’s maximum allowed weight for gross vehicle weight, single axle weight, and tandem axle weight.