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Weighing News – Industry Basics : (1) What Happens If Your Truck Is Overweight?

Once a person gets their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) the are expected to keep track of numerous bits of information about their truck. One of the most important pieces of information they are expected to know at all times is the weight of their truck. In North America, Federal and states laws have been put into place to ensure that truckers do not overload their trucks while on the road. Driving with an overloaded truck can bring on get you into varying degrees of trouble. Laws, mode of enforcement, and penalties differ significantly from state to state, but one fact is consistent, even in states where fines are not as high, any fine for an overweight condition is going be substantial.

Below are the different guidelines that are in place to inform you how you can ensure your truck isn’t overweight and what can happen if you do choose to drive with an overweight load.

What are mass limits?

The mass limits are contained in the Heavy Vehicle National Law. There are two general types of limits that a vehicle must comply with:

  1. GVM – the “total” mass, and

  2. axle mass – the mass carried on a particular axle.

A truck must comply with both sets of limits. i.e., an offence will occur if an axle limit is exceeded, even if the truck is under its GVM limit.

What are the risks associated with overweight trucks?

  1. Overheated or even failed brakes

  2. Extended stopping distances

  3. Tipping hazards on corners or during high winds

  4. Reduced brake efficiency due to weight shifting

  5. Accelerated deterioration of roadway surfaces and damage to bridges

  6. Overheated tires and potential blowout situations

  7. Much more difficult to control the truck

Who can be liable for a mass overload offence?

The responsibility to comply with mass limits does not lay solely with drivers. The law makes other people in the trucking industry liable for overloads too. If a mass overload offence occurs, charges can be brought against the:

  1. driver

  2. driver’s employer or prime contractor

  3. operator

  4. consignor

  5. packer

  6. loading manager

  7. loader

What are the penalties for Overloading?

  1. The penalty for committing a mass overload offence is a fine. The maximum amount of the fine depends on the size of the overload.

  2. The maximum penalties are increased each year and published on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s website.

What are the consequences of driving an overweight truck?

  1. Drivers can go to jail for driving overweight trucks

  2. Big Fines on Overweight Trucks

  3. Late Deliveries

  4. Damaged customer relations

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