Increased Weight Limits for Commercial Vehicles in Georgia Could Have Devastating Consequences
Anyone who has spent any time on our state’s roadways knows just how common the sight of commercial vehicles has become. Weighing upwards of 80,000 pounds and sometimes stretching to 70 or 80 feet, commercial freight trucks pose an ever-looming threat to other drivers. This danger may have been increased in recent weeks after the passage of new legislation in Georgia that allows for the raising of intrastate truck weight limits to 88,000 pounds for vehicles that are transporting certain types of cargo.
Limitations on New Truck Weights
Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers officially enacted House Bill 189, which increases the weight limits for commercial trucks to 88,000 pounds. This represents a ten percent increase from the prior limit of 80,000 pounds. These limits, however, do not apply universally to all commercial vehicles that use the state’s roads. For instance, the exemption only applies to trucks that are hauling agricultural products, such as livestock and logs. Furthermore, these heavier trucks cannot drive on federal highways, which are subject to federal limits, but must remain on local roads and state highways. Another limitation only allows the heavier trucks to travel within a 150 mile radius of their point of origin and bars them from traveling in 13 metro Atlanta counties. Finally, the higher weight limits will expire on July 1st of 2025.
The Impact of the Change
The debate over whether higher truck limits should be allowed in Georgia involved two main camps: agricultural, forestry, and trucking groups versus city and county government agencies, with the latter directly opposing the increase. Proponents of the change argue that hauling more freight per trip saves money, especially for low-margin industries like logging. Opponents, on the other hand, claim that using heavier trucks will inevitably cause more damage to local roads and bridges, which in turn will require expensive repairs. Further concerns were raised about the increased braking distance that will be required to bring these heavier vehicles to a stop and how that could affect car and truck accident rates across the state. Increased weight can also reduce overall maneuverability and the wear and tear on the brake and suspension systems, tires, and other vehicle parts increases the risk of sudden mechanical failure.
Liability for Truck Accidents
While the consequences of the new change in truck cargo weight limits still remains to be seen, the risk to other drivers on the road is significant. Whether an injured party will be able to recover compensation for accident-related losses will depend on the circumstances that led to the accident, but potentially liable parties could include:
- The truck’s driver;
- The trucking company;
- The company responsible for loading the cargo;
- A vehicle or parts manufacturer; and
- Other drivers.
When a claimant can prove that one or more of these parties was responsible for a crash, he or she could be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Call for a Free Consultation
To speak with an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer about seeking compensation for your own crash-related losses, please call Shiver Hamilton Campbell at 404-593-0020 today.