While many motorists may not recall much from their high school science classes any more, the fact remains that physics has and always will play an important part in every person’s life. And one of the areas that the physical sciences have a great deal to do with is the way motor vehicles function on the road. The roles that vehicle mass and road speed play in traffic accidents has a great bearing on whether the driver and passengers of an economy hatchback will survive a collision with a larger and heavier sport utility vehicle. But even this comparison is lacking considering the disparity between an SUV and a semi tractor-trailer.
When looking at the different types of motor vehicles operating on Maryland roadways at any given time, the number of passenger vehicles far exceeds that of those much larger 18-wheelers. Yet quantity can be much less of a factor than mass, of which commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) generally have much more compared to cars, light trucks and motorcycles. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, recommends caution when driving near commercial delivery trucks, gasoline tankers, auto haulers and large charter buses.
Having represented many victims of traffic collisions and other personal injury accidents, our legal team is aware of the difficult circumstances that those hurt in car and trucking-related wrecks often find themselves. We know that the success of an auto injury lawsuit may hinge on some small detail or other fact, which can help to point to the negligence or liability on the part of another driver, trucking company, or transport corporation. When the cost of medical care is mounting for the victim of a car, truck or motorcycle crash, the importance of determining responsibility for that accident is one of the most important parts of an injury claim.
When it comes to motor vehicle accidents involving a commercial truck, the stakes rise considerably, not only because many of the injuries sustained in these kinds of beltway traffic collisions can be extensive. As previously mentioned, the weight (or mass) of an 18-wheeler can exceed that of a standard passenger vehicle by a multiple of 10, 20 or even 30 times. Depending on the conditions at the time of the crash, including vehicle speed and direction, injuries sustained by victims can range from severe lacerations and deep cuts to compound fractures and closed-head trauma.
Many people believe, mistakenly, that larger passenger vehicles like SUVs provide a safe haven for the driver and passengers in the case of a traffic wreck. While this may be true to some extent when a crash involves similar and smaller-sized vehicles, even a large sport utility vehicle is no match for a semi tractor-trailer rig weighing upward of 50,000 or more pounds. Being hit from behind or T-boned from the side by an 18-wheel big rig can turn even the most robust SUV into a mass of twisted steel; with the occupants often faring far worse than the vehicle itself.
The weight of a CMV is not only an aggravating factor when a large truck collides with a smaller passenger car, the extra mass resulting from a full cargo load can greatly influence how well the driver of that truck can actually control his vehicle. In addition, because of the detrimental effects that extremely heavy motor vehicles can have on the physical surface roadway, the state of Maryland places weight and size restrictions on CMVs, which must be obeyed under penalty of law.
Because over-the-road tractor-trailers and other commercial motor vehicles are designed to carry large and often heavy loads across vast distances, the safety of these vehicles has always been of great concern to regulating authorities. There are numerous limitations placed on the size of cargo carried by a CMV, as well as the total weight that these vehicles are allowed to carry. In fact, in many states, the actual securing of cargo loads is also regulated to some degree.
At the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, we are committed to assisting those victims of trucking-related accidents resulting from CMVs with oversize loads, as well as trucks that may have been overloaded contrary to state and federal motor carrier laws. As experienced trucking injury attorneys here in the Baltimore area and drivers ourselves, we fully understand the daily hazards that motorists are exposed to all around Maryland, as well as in the District of Columbia.
The potential for injury or death as a result of a truck driver losing control of his rig is very high, especially on our congested beltways and interstates. The accident risk from spilled loads, cargo debris, or an out-of-control tractor-trailer because of incorrect loading or poor cargo placement is always present. Large CMVs have also been known to tip over or roll onto passenger cars because a transport company incorrectly overloaded the truck beyond safe limitations.
Here in Maryland, special permitting is required whenever a CMV’s cargo exceeds dimensional and/or weight limitations. For single unit trucks the weight limit stands at 27,000lbs. Tandem trucks must not exceed 52,000lbs, and so-called “tridum” trucks are limited to 63,000lbs above which a permit is required.
Dimensionally, the maximum allowable width for a vehicle traveling in Maryland is 102 inches (except when otherwise prohibited). This maximum width does not include the vehicle’s side-view mirrors, marker lamps, turn signals or “energy conservation devices.” Any vehicle or cargo width exceeding 102 inches requires a special permit. Height is also restricted to a maximum of 13 feet 6 inches. Under Maryland law, the length of a CMV -- including the front and rear bumpers and any portion of the vehicle’s load that may extend beyond either end of vehicle -- is 53 feet for trucks traveling on all interstates and trucking routes. (The allowable overhang beyond the vehicle’s bumpers is three feet in front and six feet behind.)
So-called “super loads” are limited to 120,000-150,000lbs for interstate-only travel (27,000lbs per axle, max). Super load maximum dimensions are: 120 feet long, 16 feet in width, and 16 feet high. If dimensions exceed these limits, a special permit is required. It should also be noted that he hauling of super loads, as specified in the Maryland regulations, is limited to certain hours and days of the year. In general, daytime travel of a super load must take place between 9am and 3:30pm. Evening moves can take place between 8pm and 6am (COMAR Title 11.04.02.06.)
Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready and willing to help victims of commercial trucking collisions. As experienced trial lawyers, we know that a tractor-trailer accident can result in life-altering injuries. When this kind of event takes place and leaves an innocent person in pain and discomfort with a questionable outlook for his or her future, the responsible party(s) should bear their portion of the damages. When you seek the assistance of a competent lawyer, one who has a great deal of training and skill in personal injury law, you can learn more about your legal rights, as well as your options in terms of filing a personal injury claim.
We have the expertise to help victims of car, motorcycle and commercial truck wrecks recover damages ranging from emergency room costs, multiple surgeries, rehabilitation expenses and even lost wages. We provide a free, no-obligation consultation to individuals who have been badly hurt in a Maryland roadway collision. Contact our offices toll-free to arrange a meeting to discuss your traffic-related injuries and next steps toward filing a personal injury suit. Our phone number is (800) 654-1949; or you may send an email to either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up an initial meeting.