How Much Does a Semi Truck Weigh?
Bill Allen | March 7, 2022 | Truck Accident Lawyer Near Gainesville
Both the U.S. and state governments have a hand in regulating trucking. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) handles regulations over interstate trucking. The states have the power to regulate vehicles on their roads.
Both entities have an interest in keeping truckers and other road users safe.
Federal regulations limit the weight of semi trucks moving goods in interstate commerce to 80,000 pounds or 40 tons. But states like Florida have many exceptions and special permits that allow much heavier loads.
Here is some information on how much a semi truck can weigh while traveling Florida’s roads and highways.
Semi Truck Weight Limits
To understand semi truck weight limits, you must understand two additional concepts. First, the federal government sets the weight limit for interstate trucking. The states set the weight limit for intrastate trucking.
Second, the legal weight limit defines the weight allowed by law. The permitted weight limit defines the weight allowed with a special permit for an oversize or overweight load. The federal government does not issue permits for oversize or overweight loads. The states handle the issuance of special permits.
The DOT regulates semi trucks that move in interstate commerce. This includes trucks traveling:
- From one state to another state/country
- Between two places within a state that require travel through another state/country
- Between two places within a state that started or ends in another state/country
DOT regulations also cover any vehicle traveling on interstate highways.
Under DOT regulations, a semi truck and trailer with five axles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This is the maximum legal weight for trucks in interstate commerce. This legal maximum applies if the truck and trailer(s) have more than five axles.
If a truck has fewer than five axles, you calculate the maximum legal weight by adding 20,000 pounds for a single axle and 34,000 pounds for a tandem axle. A box truck with a single axle in the front and a tandem axle in the back can weigh up to 54,000 pounds.
Bear in mind that this is the gross vehicle weight (GVW), which includes the weight of the truck and trailer. Trucks weigh around 25,000 pounds and empty trailers weigh around 10,000 pounds. This leaves about 45,000 pounds for cargo.
The states help regulate intrastate commerce. This generally means any commerce other than what the DOT covers.
Under Florida law, semi trucks can travel in intrastate commerce without a permit if they weigh 80,000 pounds or less. The maximum permitless weight for smaller trucks depends on the number of axles and the distances between them.
Certain kinds of trucks have a maximum permitless weight of 70,000 pounds, including:
- Dump trucks
- Concrete mixing trucks
- Waste collection trucks
- Fuel oil and gasoline trucks
Florida grants over-dimension permits for over-dimension trucks that weigh up to 160,000 pounds. Florida also has a special category for “superload” trucks weighing over 160,000 pounds.
If a truck weighs more than the legal limit, Florida can impose a fine of up to $1,000 based on the overage. The fine is calculated by multiplying the overage by $0.05 per pound.
How Weight Affects Truck Accidents
The typical passenger car weighs about 2,000 pounds. SUVs and minivans weigh a bit more. So, on average, a fully loaded semi truck will weigh between 30 and 40 times more than your car.
In a truck accident, the weight difference will show up in the damage done to each vehicle. Truck drivers rarely die in truck accidents—the massive weight of the semi truck protects them. Moreover, its weight guarantees that the truck will experience little change in momentum during a collision.
The car, on the other hand, may get destroyed. The energy and momentum transferred to the car by the truck can cause massive damage and injuries.
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