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How much weight does Illinois allow tractor trailers to haul?

December 15, 2014

There are federal weight limits set on tractor trailers, as well as the specific requirements set by individual states. Illinois sets the state limits based on traffic safety and road preservation, and when trucks surpass these weights, it often results in dangerous conditions that could lead to injury and fatality crashes.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver errors such as overloaded or overweight trucks are contributing factors in many truck accidents. Data indicates a rising number of commercial vehicle crashes each year. Nearly 5,000 fatalities occurred in 2012, which is a 43 percent increase over tractor trailer accident fatalities in 2009.

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Weight limits are based on a formula

Illinois has a formula for determining the maximum weight allowed on the Illinois Designated Highway System. A trucking company, its drivers and the loading dock workers must calculate the weight based on the spacing between the axles and the number of axles considered. The weight allowed on a single axle is 20,000 pounds, and because the first axle is always a part of the tractor of the truck, this section is limited to that weight. The next single axle will also be limited to 20,000, making the combined weight of a truck with two axles 40,000 pounds.

The length between tandem axles is used to figure the weight distribution between them. The weight limit for tandem axles is 32,000 pounds. As the number of axles increase, so does the weight allowable for the truck. Federally the limit for the entire vehicle is 80,000 pounds, and Illinois also sets this limit.

Trucking companies attempt to increase weight limits

Some states have conducted pilot programs that allow trucks with a sixth axle carrying weights of 100,000 pounds and more on interstates within their borders. The results of the programs were inconsistent. Many major trucking companies are backing legislation to get the national rate increased to 97,000 pounds on all federal interstate highways, regardless of what state the trucks go through. According to the American Trucking Association, requiring the sixth axle provides safer braking capacity and more even weight distribution, and that single trucks carrying more weight reduce the amount of traffic on the roadways. However, Illinois has doubled fines on trucks exceeding the weight limit of 80,000 pounds.

To increase profits, some shipping companies push the weight limits and pressure their truck operators to drive overloaded trucks. This can increase the risk that a tractor trailer will get into an accident.

When a commercial truck accident results in an injury or a fatality, the suffering of the victim and the family members should be compensated by the responsible parties. An injury attorney who understands the laws regarding tractor trailers in Illinois may be able to help acquire compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering.

If you have been injured in a personal injury or medical malpractice accident, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago accident and injury law firm of Cogan & Power at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free case consultation, so that we can help you begin the process of recovery as soon as possible. If you cannot come to our offices in downtown Chicago, we will come to you. And because we take cases on a contingency basis, you will not pay any fee unless we get you compensation.