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What Does GVWR Mean?

In short, GVWR is the gross vehicle weight rating on a vehicle. This is the maximum weight a vehicle has been engineered to safely carry. GVWR is regulated by the federal government. It’s important to note that GVWR has nothing to do with how much the truck actually weighs. That is the gross vehicle weight or GVW. This number may fluctuate with cargo, passengers, etc., but the GVWR always remains the same.

In addition, GVWR doesn’t actually include the trailer of a big rig. Instead, gross combination weight rating (GCWR) includes both the GVWR of the truck, as well as the GVWR of the trailer that it’s carrying.

Another misconception is that drivers can determine their GVWR by adding the gross axle weight ratings (GAWRs) for every axle on the truck. While this method may have worked at one time, there are so many factors that are taken into account now that simply adding up GAWRs is unreliable.

When calculating the GVWR, manufacturers will take quite a few factors into account. These include, but aren’t necessarily limited to:

  • The truck’s chassis
  • The body/frame of the truck
  • The driver and passengers
  • Cargo being hauled
  • Fluids like oil and fuel
  • Accessories like attachments for sleeping
  • The hitch that connects the trailer to the truck
Standard GVWR for Different Vehicles

For most passenger vehicles, the GVWR is 6,000 pounds. If the GVWR is above 8,500 pounds, the driver must have additional insurance. Any vehicle that exceeds 26,000 pounds, which includes most commercial vehicles, requires a commercial driver’s license to operate. Any vehicle used to transport hazardous materials, as well as passenger buses or vehicles, also require this licensing.

It’s incredibly important for truck drivers and trucking companies to not exceed the GVWR of their rigs. After all, trucks, brakes and other components are designed with the weight limit in mind. If the load is too heavy, a truck driver may not be able to slow down or stop quickly enough, and they may experience tire blowouts.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Accidents Stemming from Exceeding the GVWR?

Truck accidents resulting in the GVWR being exceeded are one of the few instances in which drivers are rarely to blame (unless they own their own delivery or trucking company). Instead, it’s up to the logistical chain to ensure the GVWR isn’t exceeded. Trucking companies are tasked with making sure vendors and other clients know how much cargo the truck can carry.

In addition, it’s up to those vendors or clients to know exactly how much their load weighs and to not overload the truck. If the trucking company doesn’t provide accurate information, they may be held liable for the accident. However, if the company loading the truck puts too much weight on the vehicle, they may be responsible.

In rare cases, the truck driver themselves might be liable. This is the case if they somehow overload the cab or add accessories that aren’t authorized, and this causes a GVWR-related accident, the driver may be held liable.

If you were injured in a truck accident, whether the wreck was caused by an exceeded GVWR or any other reason, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us today at 800-559-5741 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a truck accident attorney at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers today.