Commercial vehicles in Washington state have weight restrictions. These weight limits are based on a variety of factors, including the number of axles, the grouping of axles, tires and more. These restrictions help to ensure that commercial vehicles are safe to be on the roads. Unsafe vehicle weights of commercial vehicles could be a contributing factor in a motor vehicle accident.
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RCW 46.44.041: Maximum gross weights—Wheelbase and axle factors
No vehicle or combination of vehicles shall operate upon the public highways of this state with a gross load on any single axle in excess of twenty thousand pounds, or upon any group of axles in excess of that set forth in the following table, except that two consecutive sets of tandem axles may carry a gross load of thirty-four thousand pounds each, if the overall distance between the first and last axles of such consecutive sets of tandem axles is thirty-six feet or more.
The following table is based on the following formula: W = 500((LN/N-1)+12N+36). W is the maximum weight in pounds (to the nearest 500 pounds) carried on any group of two (2) or more consecutive axles. L is the distance in feet between the extremes of any group of two (2) or more consecutive axles. N is the number of axles under consideration.
[Table Redacted – To see the table click here]
When inches are involved: Under six inches take lower, six inches or overtake higher. The maximum load on any axle in any group of axles shall not exceed the single axle or tandem axle allowance as set forth in the table above.
The maximum axle and gross weights specified in this section are subject to the braking requirements set up for the service brakes upon any motor vehicle or combination of vehicles as provided by law.
Loads of not more than eighty thousand pounds which may be legally hauled in the state bordering this state which also has a sales tax are legal in this state when moving to a port district within four miles of the bordering state except on the interstate system. This provision does not allow the operation of a vehicle combination consisting of a truck tractor and three trailers.
Notwithstanding anything contained herein, a vehicle or combination of vehicles in operation on January 4, 1975, may operate upon the public highways of this state, including the interstate system within the meaning of section 127 of Title 23, United States Code, with an overall gross weight upon a group of two consecutive sets of dual axles which was lawful in this state under the laws, regulations, and procedures in effect in this state on January 4, 1975.
RCW 46.44.042: Maximum gross weights—Axle and tire factors
Subject to the maximum gross weights specified in RCW 46.44.041, it is unlawful to operate any vehicle upon the public highways with a gross weight, including load, upon any tire concentrated upon the surface of the highway in excess of six hundred pounds per inch width of such tire. An axle manufactured after July 31, 1993, carrying more than ten thousand pounds gross weight must be equipped with four or more tires. An axle carrying more than ten thousand pounds gross weight must have four or more tires, regardless of the date of manufacture. Instead of the four or more tires per axle requirements of this section, an axle may be equipped with two tires limited to five hundred pounds per inch width of the tire. This section does not apply to vehicles operating under oversize or overweight permits, or both, issued under RCW 46.44.090, while carrying a nonreducible load.
The following equipment may operate at six hundred pounds per inch width of tire: (1) A nonliftable steering axle or axles on the power unit; (2) a tiller axle on firefighting apparatus; (3) a rear booster trailing axle equipped with two tires on a ready-mix concrete transit truck; and (4) a straddle trailer manufactured before January 1, 1996, equipped with single-tire axles or a single axle using a walking beam supported by two in-line single tires and used exclusively for the transport of fruit bins between field, storage, and processing. A straddle trailer manufactured after January 1, 1996, meeting these use criteria may carry five hundred fifteen pounds per inch width of tire on sixteen and one-half inch wide tires.
For the purpose of this section, the width of the tire in case of solid rubber or hollow center cushion tires, so long as the use thereof may be permitted by the law, shall be measured between the flanges of the rim. For the purpose of this section, the width of tires in case of pneumatic tires shall be the maximum overall normal inflated width as stipulated by the manufacturer when inflated to the pressure specified and without load thereon.
The department of transportation, by rule with respect to state highways, and local authority, with respect to a public highway under its jurisdiction, may extend the weight table in RCW 46.44.041 to one hundred fifteen thousand pounds. However, the extension must be in compliance with federal law, and vehicles operating under the extension must be in full compliance with the 1997 axle and tire requirements under this section.
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