Federal Commercial Trucking Regulations: Length, Width, Weight | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

truck accident injury lawyersWhen you boil it down, the biggest reason that commercial trucks are so dangerous and deadly is because they are bigger, heavier, and longer than other vehicles on the road. This makes them more difficult to drive and more difficult to stop. It is also more likely that a commercial tractor-trailer accident results in serious injuries or death. 

The federal government has a number of regulations in place to make sure that commercial trucks size stays under control. Let’s take a closer look. 

  • Weight. Under federal law, a one-axel commercial truck can weigh up to 20,000 pounds, while a double-axel vehicle can weigh up to 34,000 pounds. Commercial trucks with more axels cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds. In comparison, the average car in the United States weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. As you can see, when commercial trucks and cars collide, the truck always wins. 
  • Length. The United States government has a law that states may not limit trucks on interstates from being under 48 feet in length. There are no federal regulations limiting the maximum length of vehicles—those laws are set by the states. In Virginia, the maximum length for commercial trucks is 75 feet on interstates, though this number varies depending on the type of commercial truck. 
  • Width. According to federal regulations, the maximum width of a commercial truck is 102 inches, or 8.5 feet. This is also the state law in Virginia, for both interstates and other roads. In some cases, wide loads are permitted on the roads, but these trucks are not allowed unless they apply for a permit and follow a strict set of rules.  
  • Height. There are no federal regulations regarding the height of commercial trucks. However, most states, including Virginia have a law stating that the maximum height for commercial trucks is 13 feet, six inches. It is important to note that a number of highways and roads in Virginia and across the country have lower height limits due to low bridges.