It’s an all-too-familiar sight for drivers: an 18-wheeler carrying oversize loads of cargo barreling down our highways and interstates.
Over-length, over-width, and/or overweight loads generally require special transit permits, impose time constraints, and may require special equipment such as flashing lights or signs in order to protect the other drivers on the road. Not only do these overloaded trucks cause extensive damage to our infrastructure, but further, they cause devastating accidents with other vehicles.
Overloaded truck accidents happen for various reasons, including the following:
- An oversize and/or overweight (“OS/OW”) load causes the weight of the truck to shift to the rear, making it difficult for the truck driver to control the vehicle’s movement and speed
- An OS/OW load can cause the truck’s tires to blow out
- An OS/OW truck has a higher center of gravity, increasing the likelihood of rollovers
- An OS/OW load causes an increase in speed, especially when the truck is traveling downhill, making it difficult to slow down and/or stop the truck.
Penalties for Oversize and Overweight Loads
Because of the hazards associated with oversize and overweight vehicles, the Texas Legislature has instituted stiffer penalties for oversize and overweight violations in order to combat the danger this practice presents on our highways and interstates. Before the new penalties took effect in September 2013, fines for a truck with a single weight violation exceeding 10,000 pounds over the legal limit ranged from just $500 to $1,000 for a first offense.
Now, a first offense for a weight violation imposes fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 on a sliding scale based on how many pounds overweight the truck is. Trucks that are up to 2,500 pounds over the legal limit can be fined up to $500; trucks that are between 2,500 pounds and 5,000 pounds overweight can be fined up to $1,000. For a repeat offense within the same year, these fines are doubled. If the oversize and overweight load is un-permitted, additional fines are imposed upon the trucking company. Because improperly loaded trucks have such a great potential for loss of control and rollover, the Texas Department of Public Safety (responsible for enforcing the new legislation) has notified trucking companies of the new penalty system in hopes that by hitting offenders’ wallets, they will in effect curb violations and ultimately prevent the destructive accidents oversize and overweight truck loads can cause.
Driving a properly loaded truck is challenging enough. But when trucking companies put their bottom line before public safety, their negligence sets the stage for catastrophic accidents on the Texas roadways. If you have been in an accident with an overweight truck or commercial vehicle, please contact Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for a free consultation with no obligation.