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Commercial Truck Axle Weight Limits in California

Trucks are the lifelines of our economy. However, when these vehicles are not properly operated, there can be dangerous consequences. Each type of commercial vehicle or trailer has various limits when it comes to the size and scope of cargo it can safely move. Go beyond this threshold and it can constitute negligence. Such an oversight can mean a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Commercial trucks can be intimidating because of their sheer size. Many people are anxious about driving near trucks, especially on the freeway where the overall travel speed is faster. Truck accidents are also dangerous and often cause serious injuries.

Though this may be true, it’s important to consider some details about commercial trucks. The more you know, the less intimidating it is to drive near them. If you feel confident, you’re more likely to make proper and safe decisions.

What Are the California Axle Weight Limits?

To put it succinctly, no more than 20,000 pounds of weight can be put on any single axle. The wheel or wheels supporting one end of an axle cannot be responsible for more than 10,500 pounds. The amount of weight that a tire can support is disclosed by the tire manufacturer, and the commercial trucking company must note this weight and respect its limitations, regardless of the maximum axle weight standards.

How to Drive Safely Around Commercial Trucks

With several tons of weight barreling down the highway, it’s no surprise that commercial trucks make many people nervous. Fortunately, you have some control over your own safety. Following these driving tips can help you to share the road with commercial trucks and remain safe when you’re driving.

Never Cut Them Off

Momentum teaches us that the more weight something has, the more inertia it carries. This means it takes a significant amount of force to stop a semi-truck. Where you may be able to slide in front of cars and minivans during rush hour, it’s important that you never do this with a large commercial truck because they will be unable to stop quickly. If you’re too close, the truck will likely hit you.

Don’t Remain in their Blind Spot

Trucks have large blind spots on the side of the vehicle. Though they have mirrors to help the driver, the mirrors don’t give a complete picture. If a driver needs to change lanes and you’re in their blind spot, it’s possible they won’t see you. It’s also important to note that semi-trucks do not have rearview mirrors. This means there is a long stretch of blind spot behind the truck. It’s best to remain very far behind the truck or far ahead to keep yourself visible to the truck driver.

Don’t Speed to Avoid Them

Many drivers speed to avoid semi-trucks. You want to avoid this, as truck drivers may have a more difficult time anticipating your intentions if you’re driving erratically. Driving calmly and normally is the best way to share the road with semi-trucks.

Potential Truck Accident Injuries

If you are in a collision with a truck, you may face serious injuries and extensive damage. The inertia of a commercial truck makes accidents especially dangerous for the cars involved. Many people suffer injuries from these collisions.

Common truck accident injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Burns
  • Internal bleeding and damage
  • Disfigurement
  • Amputation

These injuries affect your entire life and can cause lasting damage. This is why it’s essential that you drive safely when around commercial trucks.

What to Do After a Commercial Truck Accident

If you are in an accident with a commercial truck, you need to know what to do. If you are prepared, you can limit the damage and give yourself the best chance for a fast recovery

If you are in an accident with a commercial truck, follow these steps:

  1. Assess your own injuries. If you are bleeding excessively, feel faint, can’t feel your limbs, or have other similar symptoms, you should stay where you are until medical help arrives. If you only have minor injuries, you can get out of the car.
  2. Call 911 and exchange information with the driver. This caliber of accident requires police help.
  3. Take photos of all damage and injuries to both vehicles and all parties involved. This will help for insurance claims, as well as any personal injury case you may create.
  4. If witnesses stop to help, take their contact information and a brief statement.
  5. Call your attorney. The sooner we know about your accident, the more airtight your case will be.


What Is the Legal Weight Limit for a Truck in California?
Overall, the maximum weight of a California commercial truck is 80,000 pounds. This may seem like a lot, but it can only occur if the weight distribution requirements are met. The weight limit may affect how much cargo can be put into the commercial truck, as well as the type of cargo.

What Is the Weight Limit per Axle on a Semi?

Each axle on a semi-truck may only support up to 20,000 pounds. Each wheel that supports one end of an axle may only support 10,500 pounds. These regulations are important because they ensure the truck can drive properly and minimizes the likelihood of an accident. It’s also important to note that individual equipment may have limitations that support less weight than the legal limit. It’s crucial to honor the smaller of the two weights.

How Much Weight Is Allowed on the Steer Axle?
The steer axle is one of the most important parts of a semi-truck. It allows the truck to move and must be able to be turned by the driver. For this reason, the limit is lower than a standard axle. A steer axle may only support 12,000 pounds rather than 20,000.

How Common Are Semi-Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents make up around 6% of all road accidents. However, they account for 11% of all accident-related deaths. This demonstrates that semi-truck accidents can be even more dangerous than accidents between two cars. Because of this, drivers need to maneuver carefully around semi-trucks and large vehicles, and use common sense when driving, too.

What Should I Look for When Choosing a Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer?

There are a few key points to consider when looking for a commercial truck accident attorney. 

For instance, they should, at a minimum: 

  • Understand the nuances of laws and regulations that apply to truck accidents 
  • Have a proven track record of successful trial experience, and 
  • Know how to build a rapport with prospective clients

How Long Does a Truck Accident Lawsuit Take?

Once you engage with a law firm, the amount of time it will take to get through the legal process can vary according to a few factors. Among them are liability investigations, interactions with insurance companies, medical treatment, and negotiations. A full lawsuit can take anywhere from several months to a few years to resolve. 

Contact Us

If you are harmed in an accident involving a commercial truck, you need a California truck accident attorney. Zentz & Zentz is here to help you after a collision with a truck. 

Contact us today to learn more.

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