Anyone in Orange County who has ever driven their car next to a tractor-trailer knows that the size of these vehicles is enormous in comparison to cars and SUVs. Thus, it is no mystery as to why accidents involving tractor-trailers and smaller vehicles often result in severe injuries or even death for the people in the smaller vehicles. For this reason and various others, the federal government and each state impose a number of regulations on truck companies and truck drivers.
One of these important regulations is weight limits for trucks. In California, the Vehicle Code provides that no vehicle can have a weight of more than 80,000 pounds. In addition, 20,000 pounds is the maximum allowable gross weight on any single axle of the vehicle. By comparison, the average car weighs significantly less. Accordingly, while the average car would never even come close to exceeding California's vehicle weight limits, a big rig truck might.
To help ensure compliance with the weight limits, the California Highway Patrol operates weigh stations throughout the state. All commercial vehicles must stop at these weigh stations when road signs show that a stop is required.
Weight limits are important, especially for semi-trucks, because otherwise truck operators might be tempted to load their vehicles with as big of a load as the truck could possibly handle. The problem with that is that any vehicle becomes more and more difficult to operate safely as it gets heavier.
An overloaded truck is a danger to everyone that shares the road with that truck. If truck companies or drivers ignore weight limits, they could be increasing the likelihood that the truck has a mechanical failure or that the driver loses control of the vehicle. Under these circumstances, accident victims may be able to use the weight limit violation as evidence against the driver or truck company.
Source: California Vehicle Code, "California Vehicle Code Section 35550-35558," Accessed June 17, 2015