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Do RVs Have to Obey Road Weight Limits?

Do RVs Have to Obey Road Weight Limits?

Most drivers don’t have to worry much about road weight limits. However, weight restrictions on roads are relatively common for larger vehicles and semi-trucks. Considering some of the largest RVs can weigh over 50,000 pounds, weight restrictions can get confusing. Today, we’re uncovering do RVs have to obey road weight limits. Plus, find out how to find weight limits on roads.

Let’s dive in and see!

Weighing the RV the easy way with the Weigh my Truck App | How and why to weigh your RV or Motorhome

What Exactly Are Road Weight Limits? 

Highway departments use weight limits to reduce damage to roads and important infrastructures like roads and bridges. Putting excessive amounts of weight on road surfaces can damage the road and cause it to develop potholes and cracks. 

Additionally, putting too much weight on a bridge can cause the bridge to fail and result in a dangerous situation. Road weight limits vary based on the road, so it’s essential to check the weight limits if you’re towing a large or heavy trailer.

Many heavy vehicles have several different weights to consider when it comes to their weight limit. The gross weight limit is the combined weight of the vehicle, trailer, and cargo. The axle weight is the amount of weight put on a specific axle. Typically, an evenly distributed weight would result in an equal amount of weight applied to each axle.

The final weight is the bridge weight, which uses the Federal Bridge Gross Weight Formula. This is a bit more complex and is best figured out using a Federal Bridge Weight Limit Calculator.

Road sign showing weight restrictions on roads and bridges
Weight restrictions on roads and bridges are there to keep you, your RV, and the roads safe.

Why Does a Road Have a Weight Limit?

One of the biggest reasons there are weight restrictions on roads is to protect the road surface. Heavier vehicles can destroy a road, which means the county or state highway departments will need to repair the road. 

Weight limits help to ensure taxpayer dollars get used appropriately and are not wasted by large corporations hauling heavy loads. This is why many local ordinances limit commercial vehicles on some routes to avoid damaging their roads. In addition, weight limit restrictions will force larger trucks to take alternative routes, increasing traffic flow and preventing congestion due to big rigs.

How Do You Find Weight Limits on Roads?

One of the best ways to find weight restrictions on roads is to look for signs that indicate any applicable weight limits on a specific road. However, the last thing you want to do is drive on the road and discover a sign informing you that the weight is lower than what you know your vehicle weighs.

The only legal and appropriate response will require you to stop driving immediately and exit the road. However, if you have a heavy trailer, that’s likely not going to be easy or possible in every situation. You want to research your route ahead of time to know you’re not going to run into any issues.

The best way to find weight limits is to utilize the state’s database. Rules and regulations are incredibly different, and many exceptions exist. Check your local highway department’s website for information, or reach out to the highway department to confirm weight limits on specific roads. Some GPS units have access to road information and can quickly and easily create a safe route to ensure you stay legal.

Pro Tip: Before you hit the highway, learn more about The Most Important Question New RVers Don’t Ask: RV Weight.

Heavy RV
Going over the weight restrictions on roads can cause major damage to the road surface.

What Can Happen If a Vehicle Weighs Too Much for a Road?

Vehicles that exceed a road’s weight limit will cause wear and tear on the road surface. In addition, the vehicle could cause culverts and bridges to collapse when driving over them. This can cause serious damage that will require considerable effort to repair.

Fines for driving over a road’s weight limit can be steep. Bay Crane Northeast received a $57,000 fine in July 2017. The company was caught hauling a massive generator that weighed 560,000 pounds. Unfortunately, the maximum weight of I-95, where the truck was driving, was only 80,000 pounds. In addition to the ticket, Bay Crane Northeast agreed to pay an additional $60,000 to RIDOT for costs associated with the load.

Do RVs Have to Obey Road Weight Limits?

Yes, RVs must obey road weight limits. However, road weight limits are typically per axle, so you’d have to have a massive rig to come close to the limits. Most RVs are well below any road axle weight limits for it to be an issue.

Some of the largest Class A motorhomes weigh over 50,000 pounds when fully loaded. However, they have three axles, which equates to approximately 17,000 pounds per axle when distributed evenly. Most Highway axle limits are 20,000 lbs.

Not only do RVs have to obey road weight limits, but if your weight exceeds a certain amount, you may need a special license. You’ll want to confirm your weight and requirements based on the state you’re registering your vehicle and trailer.

RV weigh cat scale
Our RV weight is at the upper end of heavy. While we are ok on our axles (the drive and tag are included in one) we have to be careful on bridges like a semi truck.

Do RVs Have to Obey Bridge Weight Limits?

All vehicles, including RVs, have to obey bridge weight limits. Driving over a bridge when you are overweight poses a significant risk to the bridge. Even if the bridge doesn’t collapse under the weight of the RV, it could create a potential issue for drivers in the future.

Many smaller bridges have limits that are far lower than many RV’s. Typically signs will note a bridge limit far before you reach it, so be sure to keep an eye out. RVers must do their research to avoid exceeding bridge and road weight limits.

How Do I Find the Weight of My RV?

One mistake many RVers make is assuming they can trust the weight of their rig posted on the manufacturer’s website. Unfortunately, the second you place anything inside your RV, that number is inaccurate. You’ll need to fully load your RV and drive it onto a scale to get an accurate weight.

You must have your rig as fully loaded as you would ever get it. This includes water in your freshwater or waste tanks and a full fuel tank in your vehicle. Don’t forget to include the weight of any passengers or other gear you’d bring on your trip.

Pro Tip: Make weighing your RV easy by using our guide on How to Weigh Your Truck or RV on a CAT Scale.

Truck and RV scales sign
RVers can use CAT scales at truck stops to weigh their RVs.

Can I Use a Roadside Weigh Station for My RV?

The roadside weight stations are for commercial vehicles, not personal RVs. Weigh station employees likely aren’t very happy to see you and your RV rolling through their station. However, CAT Scales at truck stops and other fuel stations are available for more than just semi-trucks.

Download the CAT Scale app on your smartphone. Once you do, you can find the nearest CAT Scale to your location. Once you arrive at the destination, you can complete the entire transaction and process it from your mobile phone. Simply drive up on the scale, ensure you have an axle on each weight plate, and follow the instructions in the app.

Commercial Vehicle Weight Limit

Is It Dangerous to Drive an Overweight RV?  

Driving an overweight RV is incredibly dangerous. Overloading your RV can cause a tremendous amount of damage to your axles and void your warranties. You could also be in serious legal trouble if you are involved in an accident. 

You must stay within your RV’s limits and know any road weight limits. Make sure you drive your RV across a scale after making any adjustments or modifications so you know your weight.

Do you know how much your RV weighs? Tell us in the comments!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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