Do Oversized Trucks Present Greater Dangers on the Road?

Oversized trucks can indeed pose greater dangers on the road compared to standard-sized vehicles. While there are specific regulations in place to govern these trucks’ operation, their sheer size and weight can still present significant hazards. Typical semi-trucks are already large and heavy enough, but when they are oversized, then the damage they can do to other drivers on the road is even more severe.

What are Virginia’s laws on the size and weight of commercial trucks

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the laws concerning the height and weight and other dimensions of a typical commercial truck under trucking regulations are as follows:

  • Gross weight. 80,000 lbs. on all roads (federal bridge formula applies)
  • Width. 8’6” on all roads
  • Height. 13’6” on all roads
  • Length.
    • 40’ for single units and buses
    • 48’ for semi-trailers
    • 28’6” for twins/doubles (on designated highways only, not allowed on other roads)
    • 65’ for autotransporters on designated roads (60’ on all other roads)
    • 75’ for stinger-steered on designated roads (65’ on all other roads)
  • Overhang. 3’ front, 4’ rear.

In Virginia, there are permits that allow for temporary (13 days) leniency on oversized loads. Additionally, there are escort requirements with certain sized trucks.

Heavy Haul Trucking also details the requirements of certain oversized loads:

“Oversize Load” signs are required on front and rear of the vehicle/load for all overdimensional permit loads. Flags must be displayed on all four corners of all oversize loads, and at the widest extremities of the vehicle or load on wide loads and at the extreme rear of overlength loads. Flags must also be used on rear overhangs exceeding 4 feet, and a red light visible for at least 500 feet must be displayed if traveling at night. When vehicle/load exceeds 12′ wide or 75′ long, flashing amber lights, visible for 500′, must be displayed on the tractor and at the upper rear end of the load or vehicle. However, amber lights are not needed if the load is accompanied by escort vehicles with amber flashing lights on each escort vehicle. Signs are not required for movements that are overweight only.

How are oversized trucks dangerous?

One of the primary concerns with oversized trucks is their increased stopping distance. These vehicles require longer distances to come to a complete stop, especially when traveling at higher speeds or carrying heavy loads. This extended stopping distance can make it challenging for oversized truck drivers to react quickly in emergency situations, such as sudden traffic slowdowns or unexpected obstacles on the road.

Another issue is the potential for cargo shifts and instability. Oversized trucks often carry exceptionally large or irregularly shaped loads, which can be prone to shifting during transport. This can affect the truck’s balance and stability, increasing the risk of rollovers or loss of control, especially when navigating curves or making turns.

Additionally, oversized trucks can have limited visibility. Their massive size can create large blind spots, making it difficult for truck drivers to see smaller vehicles around them. This limited visibility increases the likelihood of accidents caused by lane changes, merging, or unaware motorists traveling in these blind spots.

Lastly, the impact of an accident involving an oversized truck can be far more severe due to the vehicle’s size and weight. Collisions with these massive trucks can lead to catastrophic injuries and extensive property damage, making road safety a top priority when it comes to regulating the operation of oversized trucks.

How can a Richmond truck accident attorney help me?

Proving that a truck was improperly loaded or carrying an oversized load (and without the proper permit) at the time of an accident is crucial in cases involving accidents caused or exacerbated by excessive weight. Our Richmond-based truck accident attorneys use various methods and evidence to establish that a truck was overloaded. These include:

  • Accident scene investigation. Attorneys often start by investigating the accident scene. We may examine the wreckage, skid marks, and the truck’s impact on the surrounding area (or photographs and videos if the scene has been cleaned up) to gather clues about the circumstances of the accident. If the truck’s cargo contributed to the accident, signs of cargo spillage or distribution can be important indicators.
  • Truck inspection. Inspecting the truck itself is essential. We may request access to the truck involved in the accident to examine its cargo area and load securing mechanisms. We may look for signs of cargo shifts, improperly secured loads, or damages to the cargo that suggest overloading. We can check whether the trucking company or driver violated any regulations, which may indicate negligence in load securement and contribute to overloading.
  • Driver and witness testimony. We may interview the truck driver and any witnesses to the accident. This includes asking the driver about the weight of the cargo, the loading process, and any concerns they had regarding the load’s weight or stability. Witnesses who observed the truck before the accident can also provide valuable information.
  • Cargo records. We request and review the trucking company’s records related to the cargo. This may include cargo manifests, load tickets, and bills of lading, which should indicate the weight of the cargo. Discrepancies between the recorded weight and the actual weight can be evidence of overloading.
  • Maintenance records. Extra weight can place additional stress on a truck’s mechanical components. Attorneys may review the truck’s maintenance records to check for signs of wear and tear that should have been identified and addressed before the truck took to the road. We can also look at the tools and devices used to keep that oversized cargo in place to see if there is noticeable damage.

Proving that a truck was overloaded requires a comprehensive investigation and the collection of various types of evidence. An experienced truck accident attorney will use these methods to build a strong case and demonstrate that overloading (even if a permit had been obtained) was a contributing factor to the accident, potentially leading to liability on the part of the trucking company or driver.

Being in a truck accident often leads to catastrophic injuries for the driver of the car involved. When the truck is oversized then it is even more likely that you will suffer from severe wounds that may lead to complications and long-term disabilities. You should not have to suffer more than you already must, especially when your injuries were brought on by someone else’s negligence – whether that be the truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo loader, or the truck manufacturer. Multiple parties can (and often are) held liable for truck accidents. If you have been in an accident with an oversized truck, contact Phelan Petty Injury Lawyers today. Our experienced team has represented victims of truck accidents years on end, and we have the results to prove that we know what we’re doing.

To schedule a free consultation today with our Richmond-based truck accident attorneys, call us or fill out our contact form. We proudly serve clients across Virginia.