While trucking is one of the most underappreciated jobs in the United States, it is among the most important. With trucks to continue pulling the supply chain, life as we know it would simply not be possible.
According to Bob Costello, the American Trucking Association’s (ATA) chief economist, trucks move approximately 72.5% of the nation’s freight by weight. In 2019 alone, trucks moved 11.84 billion tons of weight across the country.
For trucking companies and independent operators, maximizing loads is essential, especially with the rising cost of fuel being what it is. However, there is also a delicate balance that needs to be observed. Underweight loads are underutilizing resources and can end up costing the company money through make-up runs and fuel surcharges.
However, the alternative is not only more expensive but it’s also dangerous. Overweight loads can wreak havoc on the driver’s livelihood, the truck, and even the roads themselves. While some firms are willing to take the risk, some drivers get caught by surprise, finding out the hard way that their load is too heavy.
The Legal Ramifications of an Overweight Load
While the law varies from state to state, the overall result is the same. Drivers (and yes, the blame falls squarely on the driver) with overweight loads can find themselves in considerable trouble. If discovered and found guilty and the driver could be facing the following:
Criminal Charges: Most states actually consider driving with an overweight load to be a criminal offense. While technically only a misdemeanor, drivers have been sentenced to a stint in jail for being caught. Some drivers could even face having their commercial driver’s license suspended or even revoked!
Hefty Fines: This varies considerably from state to state and the circumstances involved, but if found, a driver is responsible for paying the overweight fine. Overweight fines aren’t exactly a straightforward process like a parking ticket. Some states use a sliding scale, while others have a tiered section that increases based on how overweight the load actually is. In addition to the fine for the weight itself, there are also “penalty assessments” which can quickly increase the fine amount that the driver will have to pay.
That’s not the only fine a driver will have to pay, either. According to Oversize.io, a web-based weight calculator, “In addition to the overweight fines described above, there often is an operator fine. This is a fine levied against the driver and/or the operator (the owner or business that operates the truck). These fines may be relatively small for a first offense, running from a low of $25 to $150 for the first offense.”
They go on to say that repeat offenders can receive double the fines and are responsible for court costs should the situation proceed that far.
The Impact on Your Reputation
Setting aside the legal trouble for just a moment, there is also the consideration of what overweight load problems can do to a company’s reputation. The logistics industry is experiencing a technological renaissance. Companies are more connected than they’ve ever been in the past. Catching a bad reputation for overweight loads can do some serious damage to customer relationships.
When a shipper is looking for a carrier to move their freight, the cost is only one aspect they have to consider. The reputation of the carrier is also incredibly important, as that is often the only other distinguishing factor from one carrier to the next. It doesn’t take much for a shipper to get turned off from using certain carriers, especially when delivery schedules are blown due to overweight loads.
On-board Scales Cut out the Guess Work
Fines, court troubles, and damaged reputations are only some of the issues that can be caused by carrying too much weight. Higher chances of breakdowns, excess wear and tear on the vehicle, and higher fuel consumption are also some unfortunate side effects.
The question is, why risk so much for such a relatively small gain? Especially when it’s so easy to get the ideal weight for your load every time.
On-board scales take the guesswork out of getting accurate weights when loading up. With an intuitive interface and real-time data display, a driver can even check the weight as it’s being loaded and even look at the distribution to make sure the load is properly balanced. Truckers can avoid lengthy delays at weigh stations and having to pay fines and penalties while making sure they’re making the most out of every load that goes on the road.
Air-Weigh is more than a manufacturer of on-board scales for all sizes and types of trucks and trailers. We have fostered a relationship with a number of industry leaders to ensure we provide our customers with every possible benefit and advantage modern technology can offer.
Our company is built upon the desire to make loading a vehicle easy and efficient. That’s why we have created technologies for the transportation industry that measurably increase profitability, efficiency, and safety. Our scales allow drivers to get from A to B rapidly and without over or under loading concerns, enabling fleet managers to utilize their trucks efficiently and profitably.