Utah Truck Accident Laws & Regulations

truck accident

Driving a truck is difficult work, both physically and mentally. The schedules are tight, the hours are long, and the vehicles themselves are unwieldy – and when something goes wrong, the results can be devastating. That’s why both the stage of Utah and the federal government have passed laws and regulations governing the safe operation of commercial vehicles, with stiff penalties for both the drivers and the companies that violate them.

The Utah truck accident attorneys of Swenson & Shelley have extensive knowledge of the trucking industry. Our attorneys have spent decades protecting the rights and interests of truck accident victims across Utah, as well as Arizona and Nevada. We are committed to the relentless pursuit of justice for truck accident victims.™

Contact Swenson & Shelley today for a free, no-obligation case review.

Utah Truck Speed Limits

In Utah, trucks on interstates and other limited-access roads must observe the state speed limit of 75 miles per hour. However, in urban areas and on other state highways, the speed limit may be lowered to 65 miles per hour. On certain segments of rural interstates in Utah, posted speed limits may be 80 miles per hour. Truck drivers are also expected to observe different speed limits where posted.

Utah Truck Weight Limits

Utah imposes the following basic weight limitations for commercial trucks:

  • Maximum weight on any individual wheel: 10,500 pounds
  • Maximum weight on a single axle: 20,000 pounds
  • Maximum weight on a tandem axle: 34,000 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight limit: 80,000 pounds

These weight limits do not apply to heavy-duty tow/recovery vehicles or to trucks hauling natural gas, which may have a maximum gross vehicle weight of 82,000 pounds.

Any truck that exceeds the weight limits established by state law must obtain an overweight permit.

Utah Height, Width, and Length Rules for Trucks

Under Utah law, commercial trucks must meet dimensional limits in addition to the aforementioned weight limits. These limits are as follows:

  • Single vehicle: 45 feet measured from bumper to bumper
  • Semi-trailer: 53 feet
  • Double trailer combinations: 61 feet measured from the front of the first trailer to the rear of the second trailer; no overall length limitation when adding in the truck tractor
  • Automobile transports: 80 feet measured from bumper to bumper
  • Truck trailer combination and all other combinations of commercial cargo vehicles: 65 feet
  • Commercial delivery of trailers or semitrailers carrying no cargo: 82 feet

The drawbar, or connection, between any two vehicles or trailers may not exceed 15 feet, measured between the box or frame of each vehicle or trailer. Furthermore, commercial trucks must follow overhang limitations. Vehicles may not carry a load extending more than three feet beyond the front of the power unit or more than six feet beyond the rear of the bed or body of the vehicle.

Commercial trucks are also subject to a height limit of 14 feet and a width limit of eight feet, six inches. Any truck that does not comply with these height, weight, and length rules must obtain an oversized load permit to operate on Utah roads.

Utah CDL Requirements

A driver must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate any vehicle that is used in commerce to transport passengers or property and which has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, or a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more with a towed unit that has a gross weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.

To apply for a CDL in Utah, drivers must meet certain requirements, including that they:

  • Have held a regular Class D Utah driver’s license for at least one year
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have obtained a Department of Transportation medical certificate

CDLs come in several classes, which authorize the type of commercial vehicles that may be operated by the license holder and the types of cargo that may be transported. The basic CDL classes are as follows:

  • Class A: Authorizes operation of any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more where the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle or vehicles being towed is over 10,000 pounds
  • Class B: Permits a driver to operate any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, or any single vehicle towing another vehicle that does not exceed a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds
  • Class C: Authorizes a driver to operate a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 26,001 pounds, or any single vehicle towing another vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating that does not exceed 10,000 pounds, where the vehicle is designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or to transport hazardous materials

In addition to classes of CDLs, truck drivers may obtain endorsements to their license that authorize them to drive certain types of vehicles or haul certain types of cargo not covered by the basic CDLs. Common CDL endorsements for truck drivers include:

  • T: Permits driving double- and triple-trailer combinations
  • N: Permits driving of any truck designed to transport liquid or gaseous materials in a tank container
  • H: Permits hauling of hazardous materials
  • X: Combination of tank vehicle and hazardous material endorsements

To obtain a CDL, an applicant must pass one or more written knowledge tests depending on the type of CDL and endorsements being applied for. Applicants will also need to pass a vehicle skills test, in which they must show the ability to properly inspect and safely control a commercial vehicle. Finally, applicants must pass a road skills tests, in which they demonstrate the ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle in a variety of on-road situations.

Utah Load Securement Rules for Trucks

Under Utah law, dirt, sand, gravel, rock fragment, pebble, or scrap metal loads must have a covering over the entire load unless:

  • The highest point does not exceed the top of the cargo compartment walls, and
  • The outer edges of the load are more than six inches below the top inside edges of the walls of the cargo compartment.

Utah Snow Tire and Chain Requirements

Trucks must also observe snow tire and chain requirements, which may be issued as necessary by the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Highway Patrol, or a local law enforcement agency. UDOT will issue advisories that designate stretches of road or highway where certain commercial vehicles are required to have snow tires or to install tire chains. UDOT will also designate the types of vehicles that are required to have snow tires or chains.

Utah Truck Parking Information

UDOT has published a truck parking map that truck drivers can use to locate commercial truck stops and rest areas along interstates running through Utah. The map specifies the location or exit number of truck stops/rest areas, how many long-term parking spaces for commercial vehicles the stop or rest area has, and what kind of amenities (such as restaurants, convenience stores, and showers) each truck stop or rest area has.

Federal Trucking Regulations

In addition to state laws and regulations, interstate commercial trucking must follow regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These regulations cover a variety of aspects of the trucking industry, such as:

  • Proper hauling of hazardous materials
  • Inspection requirements for vehicles
  • Record-keeping and retention requirements for motor carriers, including for vehicle inspections, cargo/load manifests, and driver employment and driving history records

Federal trucking regulations also impose hours of service limitations on drivers. These limitations are designed to prevent drivers from becoming fatigued or drowsy behind the wheel and subsequently causing accidents. They state that:

  • Truckers may not drive for more than 11 hours after coming on duty following an off-duty period of at least 10 consecutive hours.
  • Truckers may not drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty following an off-duty period of at least 10 consecutive hours.
  • Truckers must take a break of at least 30 minutes after having driven for eight consecutive hours.
  • Truckers may not drive more than 60 hours in any seven-day period or more than 70 hours in any eight-day period. The seven- or eight-day periods reset following an off-duty period of at least 34 consecutive hours.