Contributing Factors in Overload Semi Truck Accidents

Semi Truck On Its Side

More and more accidents are caused by semi trucks that seemingly refuse to obey load restrictions put in place to protect the public, starting in 2007 when over height loads damaged an overpass roughly every 10 days.

On June 14th a Mack truck hauling an excavator (an exceptionally large piece of construction equipment) caused a full traffic stop on I5. Its load crashed into the 128th street overpass.

Not only was the struck overpass damaged but another vehicle’s tires were destroyed by falling debris. Accidents like this too often cause injuries that can result in life-altering medical operations and expenses.

City of Seattle Limits on Semi Truck Loads

The city of Seattle limits loads for semi trucks and tractor trailers based on the following dimensions:

  • WIDTH: Operators are required to have a “pilot vehicle” ride before and behind any load that crosses the center line of a two-way street within the city of Seattle. On multiple lanes vehicles that are between 12 feet and 13 feet 11 inches must have a rear pilot vehicle. Vehicles with widths between 14 feet and 15 feet 5 inches need a front and rear pilot vehicle. Exceeding this width requires a commercial vehicle enforcement car to escort the load through the city. 
  • LENGTH: Rear pilot vehicles are required for load lengths of between 81 and 89 feet. Lengths between 90 and 99 feet require front and rear pilot vehicles. Special traffic escort are required for loads exceeding 100 feet in length as well as a manned steering trailer with some sort of communication device.
  • HEIGHT: A pilot vehicle must proceed any load between 14 and 15 feet. A front and rear vehicle are required for loads between 15 and 15 and half feet. Higher than that and the city has to escort the vehicle. 
  • WEIGHT: A load’s weight is critical to safety. Weight can destroy a road, endangering drivers and pedestrians alike. Loads on a single-axle trailer cannot exceed 20,000 pounds. Loads on a dual-axle weight shall not exceed 34,000 pounds.
  • OVERHANG: Overhang describes the part of the load that isn’t touching, and therefore stabilized by, the bed of the trailer. It can’t exceed a third of the vehicle’s length. The vehicle operator is required to have a pilot car if the overhang stretches 15 feet past the rear axle.

Drivers are responsible for determining if their routes can handle their loads prior to starting it. Failure to do so endangers all nearby travelers, perhaps fatally. Some of these drivers haul “superloads” that increase the probability of injury to people and property.

If you have been injured by an overloaded vehicle it may be in your best interest to consult with a personal injury attorney with experience handling these types of cases. Call 206-727-4000 to schedule a no-obligation consultation with us.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
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