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Old 05-15-2012, 09:22 AM   #29
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None of which has anything to do whatsoever with CIVIL litigation. If one is exceeding the manufacturer's GVWR, a plaintiff's personal injury attorney who's worth his salt will put that before a jury as a contributory factor causing his client's injury or death. HERE is an example in today's Houston Chronicle of what goes on in a civil personal injury/wrongful death action. Did Chrysler's minivan and seatbelts meet Federal standards for that model year? We presume, yes. Does that keep a personal injury attorney from suing them anyway? Ummm....no. In our industry, we have a saying that a personal injury lawyer will sue anyone they can find WITH MONEY, including the company that provided the paint for the walls of the facility. It's up to each individual to decide whether or not he/she knowingly wants to leave a door open for them.

This horse has been beaten to death on countless weight threads. If one wants to tow within the manufacturer's ratings, then there are tools available to help them do that. That's what we point them to. If, conversely, one doesn't care about the manufacturer's ratings, then they can tow that Teton with the F-250 to their heart's content. The choice is up to the individual.

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Old 05-15-2012, 01:59 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by RustyJC View Post
None of which has anything to do whatsoever with CIVIL litigation. If one is exceeding the manufacturer's GVWR, a plaintiff's personal injury attorney who's worth his salt will put that before a jury as a contributory factor causing his client's injury or death. HERE is an example in today's Houston Chronicle of what goes on in a civil personal injury/wrongful death action. Did Chrysler's minivan and seatbelts meet Federal standards for that model year? We presume, yes. Does that keep a personal injury attorney from suing them anyway? Ummm....no. In our industry, we have a saying that a personal injury lawyer will sue anyone they can find WITH MONEY, including the company that provided the paint for the walls of the facility. It's up to each individual to decide whether or not he/she knowingly wants to leave a door open for them.

This horse has been beaten to death on countless weight threads. If one wants to tow within the manufacturer's ratings, then there are tools available to help them do that. That's what we point them to. If, conversely, one doesn't care about the manufacturer's ratings, then they can tow that Teton with the F-250 to their heart's content. The choice is up to the individual.

Rusty
Rusty,
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:49 PM   #31
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(snip)If you are in excess of any of the following weight limitations you are in line for a felony charge. GCW limitation, any axel weight limitation, and any tire weight limitation. There isn’t any reference in the FHP manual as to GVW rating or a Tow rating when the unit is a combination unit.
(snip)
Actually those type charges can be filed in any state if the vehicle is over the vehicles legal axle/tire load limits at each axle position either for a private use vehicle or a fully registered commercial hauler. Makes no difference.

Same for the vehicles GCW however GCW is determined by the trucks legally registered GVW and the trailers legally registered GVW.

GCW is a commercial area as a GCW has to be declared for the truck and trailers combined operating weight. IMO not many folks understand nor do private use haulers like RVers have any requirements to know about this area so I won't elaborate any farther.

It would take a pretty dumb lawyer to go after a truck operator for being over the manufacturers GVWR in a civil liability issue. If the defendent has a sharp attorney on trucking laws he would have the dumb lawyer for dessert.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:20 PM   #32
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You are probably right Smokey from an official standpoint but I would think the MFGRs would designed braking base on both GVWR and GCWR. In any of the tow guides I have looked at electric brake requirement was never mentioned to satisfy the GCWR. But all I have looked at is older tables.
Federal requirements are only for the vehicle itself (GVWR), not what it tows.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:26 PM   #33
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When Newmar had Spartan change the front axle from the slightly overloaded 12,000# unit to a 14,600# unit I almost threw myself through the front window the first time I hit the brakes hard. Much bigger brakes with the new axle, plus it raised my GVWR and GCVWR. They also issued a new weight sticker for the revised vehicle.
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Old 05-16-2012, 04:25 AM   #34
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It would take a pretty dumb lawyer to go after a truck operator for being over the manufacturers GVWR in a civil liability issue. If the defendent has a sharp attorney on trucking laws he would have the dumb lawyer for dessert.
I will say this one more time and I'm through. Trucking law has NOTHING to do with a civil lawsuit. Trucking law is primarily concerned with (1) protecting roads and bridges with axle load and spacing limitations and (2) collecting revenue through registration for weight, fees, taxes, permits, etc. In a civil proceeding, all that plaintiff's lawyer is trying to do is to establish in the minds of a jury that you're at some degree of fault for his client's injuries, death or damages. If he can demonstrate to that jury that you've knowingly exceeded one or more working limits the manufacturer placed on your vehicle, he's opened that door.

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Old 05-16-2012, 05:58 AM   #35
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Weight Ratings

Hi

The GCW (Gross Combination Weight) limitation is published by the towing vehicle manufacturer. The VIN plate on both the trailer and the towing vehicle contains the required Federal information, which includes a GVW rating.

In Florida the only “Registered” Gross Weight for non-commercial vehicles is 9,000 Lbs and that isn’t a limitation but a number used to base the charges for the license for non-commercial vehicles and only applies to the motorized vehicle. A non-commercial weighing more that 26,001 Lbs then the owner is required to produce proof of “Empty” weight again only for determining the cost of licensing. The exception to this is a non-commercial Semi Tractor or the front half of an 18-wheeler has a non-commercial license that is based on the GCW rating. A single axel tractor pays less than a tandem axel tractor. This statement is for NON-COMMERCIAL trucks and trailers.

By the way the Federal regulations have an exception for NON-Commercial vehicles regardless of GVW or GCW ratings. As long as the truck, trailer and all items contained in it are owned and operated by and for the personal use of the owner the vehicle doesn’t come under the commercial vehicle regulations. This applies to an 80,000 Lb 18 wheeler as well as a ½ ton pickup truck. At the same time a ½ ton pickup truck used for commercial purpose must have a DOT number and comes under the federal regulations.

We see the 18-wheelers in Florida labeled “Not For Hire” or “Registered in (name of state) as an RV” often. They are commonly used for special purpose because there are few RV parks that can accept a 53-foot trailer plus tractor that is 13.5 feet high.

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Old 05-16-2012, 07:15 AM   #36
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Let me preface this by saying "I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice". I say this because I was accused of being one by a member of these boards. If I mis-speak and there is a lawyer out there, please correct my information. My personal opinion will be contained in this post in places.

This thread has two sub threads going on at the same time, both which are tied together but are also separate and distinct. The issues are "legality" and "liability".

Legality is obeying the laws. These laws are passed by the government and enforced by the police and court system. The burden of proof in court is "beyond a reasonable doubt". It has a very distinct meaning and is the highest burden of proof.

Liability is the other issue. There does not have to be a law being broken for you to be held liable. It is determined by a judge or jury based on a different burden of proof. This is usually "preponderance of the evidence" or "clear and convincing evidence". This standard is lower than the criminal burden.

It is very possible to be found not guilty in a criminal court and liable in a civil court for the same incident. Ask OJ Simpson.

In a criminal proceeding the issue will be did you break any laws. A judge or jury will make the determination and you may be fined or do jail time.

In a civil action people talk about justice, but they also talk about making them pay. This is why you see large corporations often named as defendants in civil suits. They have deep pockets. In an aircraft accident which is pretty plainly pilot error, you will see Boeing/General Electric/Rolls Royce/US Government named as defendants in a subsequent civil action. This is in hope that the attorney for the Plaintiff can convince a judge or jury (which they will do everything to insure has nobody with any aviation experience) finds that the large corporation with lots of money will be found liable and will have to write a check.

Of the two I am actually more afraid of the civil action. The criminal action has a higher burden of proof and the fines are usually reasonable in minor cases. The civil action can destroy my lifestyle and my family's future.

As the motivator in a civil action tends to be money, and the overall opinion of lay people is that if you own a MH you are rich (doesn't have to be true and we know in most of our cases isn't), we could be a target of civil action. It is why I was told by my lawyer to not put our cars in our family trust. If they see "Trust of the Snigglefritz family" as owners on the registration most people assume you are rich as trusts are for rich people (not true).

This is not a lecture, just something that needs to be kept in mind. A civil action is like an IRS audit, not too bad until you are the one going through it. Trust me I know, but that is another thread altogether.

And that is all I have to say about that.
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:57 AM   #37
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Federal requirements are only for the vehicle itself (GVWR), not what it tows.
All I am saying is that when I am pulling a 12000 lb 5th wheel I would like to think I could stop it if the cord come undone. The towing guide for my old 97 Ford indicated it would not be a problem since it did not mention electric brakes as a requirement for the load. I would like to think the mfgr of the tow vehicle took this into consideration when they said they could tow a certain weight. I will accept what Smokey stated that this is not the way it is and I accept your statement concernng Fed requirements. I would just want to stop and I hope the engineers took this possibility into consideration regardless of Federal requirements.

In other words all of you are probably right about this but I just don't like it. Braking is the most important part of towing and deserves special consideration.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:36 PM   #38
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I will say this one more time and I'm through. Trucking law has NOTHING to do with a civil lawsuit. Trucking law is primarily concerned with (1) protecting roads and bridges with axle load and spacing limitations and (2) collecting revenue through registration for weight, fees, taxes, permits, etc. In a civil proceeding, all that plaintiff's lawyer is trying to do is to establish in the minds of a jury that you're at some degree of fault for his client's injuries, death or damages. If he can demonstrate to that jury that you've knowingly exceeded one or more working limits the manufacturer placed on your vehicle, he's opened that door.

Rusty
I'n not going to comment on your opinion on civil lawsuits. We all have one.
Rusty', Ill say this for you. You give some excellent advise on just about all issues regarding truck specs and RVs however your not well informed about the trucking weight regs and what they do and don't do nor how they work. Which is understandable as size and weights folks don't often bother recreational vehicles. Private use haulers (rvs) simply don't have to comply with FMCSA strict safety programs from new entrent audits to annual truck and trailer inspections to a full level one inspection on the side of the road or going through scale houses.
This from FMCSA homepage about their primary mission; in part ........... the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. Activities of the Administration contribute to ensuring safety in motor carrier operations through strong enforcement of safety regulations; targeting high-risk carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers; improving safety information systems and commercial motor vehicle technologies; strengthening commercial motor vehicle equipment and operating standards; and increasing safety awareness. To accomplish these activities, the Administration works with Federal, State, and local enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, labor safety interest groups, and others."
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:47 PM   #39
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When Newmar had Spartan change the front axle from the slightly overloaded 12,000# unit to a 14,600# unit I almost threw myself through the front window the first time I hit the brakes hard. Much bigger brakes with the new axle, plus it raised my GVWR and GCVWR. They also issued a new weight sticker for the revised vehicle.
Thats because brakes are a function of the vehicles GAWRs. The new axle gave you 14600 lbs of braking vs your old smaller 12k axles with only 12000 lbs of braking. Sometimes bigger is better.
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Old 05-17-2012, 08:44 AM   #40
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Safety

Hi

The statement by FMCSA means nothing and here is why.

The Federal government doesn’t regulate the “HEIGHT” of motor vehicles or the “USE” of child restraint seats etc. and they will publish these statements in their propaganda

But here is how they “REGULATE” the use of chilled restraint seats and vehicle heights. The Federal government provides “GRANTS” for the building and maintenance of Interstate highways and associated qualifying highway systems. Some time in the 1960’s one of the grant “QUALIFICATIONS” was the state accepting the grant had to put into effect rules, regulations or laws to regulate the height of motor vehicles to 13.5 feet on the Interetate before they could get the money. Today’s grant qualification requires the state accepting the grant to have in place a rule, regulation or law requiring the use of child restraint seats.

So the bottom line is the Federal government can regulate items that the Constitution prohibits under the term know as States Rights by having the states put the rule, regulation or law in effect before they can get Federal money.

Up to this point every thing I have said can be verified by checking the records. The only disclaimer I make is there may be errors in the dates and exact wording of some of the stuff but the meaning is on record.

Now I will express my opinion.

I have dropped out of some forums on advice of counsel (I am a consultant in reference to Federal DOT regulations) because the majority of the posters advocate, “ignoring the weight and towing rules” because the Federal government exempts the RV.

Now what I am hearing from the Commercial Drivers organizations and some of the trucking organizations are complaints about problems with the RV’s on the highways. If these organizations put a decided effort in to bringing this to the attention of the Federal government then one of these days a grant “QUALIFICATION” will require the state receiving the money to put rules, regulations or laws in effect to require RV driver testing and RV inspection very similar to the commercial vehicle.

Further to this my opinion is that it is very foolish to exceed the published limitations of your towing vehicle and trailer. While the engineers that designed the units have some restraints brought about by the litigious society we live in they do know more about the capabilities of the equipment they designed than the average person towing a 16,000 pound fifth wheel RV.

If the manufacturer of you towing vehicle says the maximum combination weight is 23,500 lbs this number is probably arrived at by a combination of stopping ability, hauling ability, vehicle life, reliability (remember they warranty them) and safety or liability depending on your view.

So far I have found a number of people here advocating following the limitations provided by the manufacturer of the equipment you are using.

I commend them for doing so.

It makes me cringe to see the post down playing the “Commercial Vehicle” regulations because the RV is exempt from them. An overloaded RV is as unsafe as an overloaded commercial vehicle.

In reference to this comment you will find that a few (very few) posters have noted that most states have put the same requirements in their state driving rules, regulations and laws and some having put stronger rules in effect like Florida’s prohibition of the non-commercial vehicle towing two trailers.

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Old 05-17-2012, 11:43 AM   #41
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Hi

If the manufacturer of you towing vehicle says the maximum combination weight is 23,500 lbs this number is probably arrived at by a combination of stopping ability, hauling ability, vehicle life, reliability (remember they warranty them) and safety or liability depending on your view.
3665RE

Ok I have to ask. If the MFGR states the max combined weight is 23500 does this mean they have to be able to emergency stop the vehicle without assistance from the towed vehicle???? I have read of some cases of a cord disconnect resulting in an accident. Especially on descents. General opinions on forums I have been on indicated the tow vehicle only has partial responsiblility to brake combined weight. In other words brake their own weight and provide controllers to brake the towed vehicle.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:37 PM   #42
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.....(snip)It makes me cringe to see the post down playing the “Commercial Vehicle” regulations because the RV is exempt from them. An overloaded RV is as unsafe as an overloaded commercial vehicle. (snip)
I'll disagree on your comment about FMCSA/government/state rights as I remember how it was before the feds brought/forced every state under a centralized size and weight regulation program. In fact the feds are still working on some states trucking regulation programs. before FMCSA we pretty much hauled what we wanted in some states but others were so restrictive that trucking was getting to costly to operate in that state.

Good point on the RV are somehow exempt from weight regulations thing. I see that comment on mostly RV forums.
Rvs are exempt from certain aspects of commercial weight laws such as declaring and purchasing a gross weight or a gross combined weight or annual vehicle inspections requirements and med testing/licensing/new entrent audit/etc.
However a one ton SRW in commercial service or private use hauling a RV come under the same axle/tire load regulations. Those regulations are enforced usually by the commercial side of law enforcement as many state troopers/county deputies/other leo, have not been size and weight certified.

I'll close by posting what FHWA says about RV being subject to weight regs.....

Questions and Answers about Vehicle Size and Weight

23 CFR 658.5 Definitions
Q.. What are recreational vehicles?
They are generally a vehicular-type unit primarily designed as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel, or seasonal use that either has its own motive power or is mounted on, or towed by, another vehicle. (From ANSI)
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Q.. Are recreational vehicles subject to Federal size and reasonable access requirements?
No, because they are not commercial motor vehicles.
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Q.. Are recreational vehicles subject to Interstate axle weight limits?
Yes.
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Q.. Are recreational vehicles required to stop at State scale sites?
Each State may set its own requirements.
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