The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal government agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry and providing safety oversight of commercial vehicles. These regulations cover more than 500,000 trucking companies and set strict weight limits for these large 18-wheelers.
When trucking companies violate these standards, it can result in overweight truck accidents in Johnstown which are extremely deadly. If you or a loved one were harmed in a collision with an overloaded semi-truck, do not hesitate to speak with a Johnstown truck collision attorney.
The FMCSA typically prevents states from enforcing vehicle weight limits on interstate highways that deviate from the established federal weight limits and exemptions. Generally, the federal limit is 80,000 pounds of gross weight per vehicle. In other words, a semi-truck can weigh no more than 20,000 pounds on a single axle and no more than 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle. The Department of Transportation in Pennsylvania is authorized to issue permits for overweight loads which may be issued for a vehicle or combination of vehicles that, whether loaded or unloaded, would exceed the state’s weight limits. Those permits may also have limitations as to which specific highways in Johnstown the overweight vehicle is permitted to traverse.
In most cases, when an oversized permit is issued, they are only valid for a seven-day period and must be obtained prior to entering the state of Pennsylvania. Oversized permits restrict driving to a period of sunrise through sunset from Monday through Friday, and sunrise until noon on Saturdays. These permits restrict travel on Sundays.
Additionally, vehicles that are over 10-feet wide or more than 85 feet in length are typically not permitted to travel on weekends. On the Pennsylvania Turnpike, an oversized permit must be permitted for vehicles that meet these dimensions as well as those that have a height of over 13.5 feet or weight over 125,000 pounds.
According to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency responsible for increasing motorist’s safety, there are 4,000 fatalities every year as the result of overloaded trucks. This is because an 18-wheeler is only built to withstand a certain weight and if it is overloaded it can result in brake failure.
This puts the truck at risk of overturning, as well as tire blow outs due to added pressure on the tires. This can cause a truck driver to lose control of his or her vehicle resulting in a devastating crash with nearby motorists.
It is also important to note that a commercial vehicle can be considered overloaded even if it meets the federal weight restrictions. If the cargo is stacked too high or in a way that prevents the truck from being able to move safely or prevents the driver from being able to see clearly, then the truck would be considered overloaded.
Trucks can also be considered overloaded or overweight based on the weather conditions. For instance, if there is rain, sleet, or snow, a truck could be considered overweight for the conditions and result in a devastating crash in the area.
Overweight truck accidents in Johnstown account for a large number of fatalities in the area and should not be taken lightly. Federal law restricts trucking companies from overloading vehicles in order to prevent these deadly collisions. Failure to uphold these regulations is proof of liability that could be used as evidence by a local injury attorney to seek compensation on behalf of the injured claimant.