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How to Determine Proper Weight Distribution on a Semi Trailer

by Susanne Koenig

One of the most important aspects of moving cargo inside an 18-wheeler is proper weight distribution. Proper weight distribution is a major factor in road wear and tear. Many states are strict about trucks staying within posted weight limits and closely monitor trucking companies on how their trucks are performing. A poorly packed truck raises a company's costs for wear and tear on its facilities and trucks, and can result in fines for operating overweight trucks. Follow standard procedures to ensure proper weight distribution in a semi trailer.

Have the proper loading equipment, such as a hand truck or forklift, on hand to ensure that cargo can be moved in and out of the trailer easily. Don't pack cargo in the wrong location and compromise the truck's safety.

Be aware that there are two major axles under the truck's bed, both of which are designed to handle 43 percent of the truck's weight. The other 14 percent is distributed over the front axle, which supports the engine and the cab. Distribute most of the cargo weight between the two rear axles.

Stack cargo in the front of the truck if you have a full load, then work your way back, being sure to leave empty space near the rear of the trailer. This is done to prevent cargo from spilling out of the trailer should the trailer doors open while the truck is on the road. This empty space also minimizes pressure on the doors should cargo shift during transit.

Pack a partial load of cargo starting just behind the front axle and ending before the second axle. Doing this ensures even weight distribution and prevents wear and tear on the truck's tires. Trucks with two axles, also known as tandem axles, can support up to 34,000 pounds each, according to United States Department of Transportation regulations.

Weigh your truck after it has been loaded to make sure you have the proper amount of weight distributed over each axle. Check with your dispatch or driver manager to determine any adjustments you may have to make to satisfy state-by-state regulations.

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