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What is gross vehicle weight?

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Gross vehicle weight is the total weight of large trucks, hauling trailers and other large vehicles. This is a vital variable for fleet managers to consider for ensuring the safety of roadways. It’s important that the load is not too heavy or imbalanced or it will put the driver and others on the road at risk.

Further, to ensure the compliance of evenly distributed gross vehicle weight, there are regulations that manufac­turers and fleet operators must follow. This article is here to help you understand gross vehicle weight, how to calculate it, and regulation and compliance.

How to calculate gross vehicle weight?

  • The first factor to consider is the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which is a rating system that looks at various categories of vehicles from light, everyday pick-up trucks to trucks towing large tractor trailers. This is an important safety element for fleet managers and can be classified into two separate criteria.

    1. The base curb weight of the vehicle
    2. The weight of optional truck accessories, the weight of cargo and the weight of drivers and passengers

    These ratings are often specific to certain vehicles and most likely will never change. Unless in the instance of a manufac­turer recalling a truck due to issues concerning its GVWR, or formal changes within regulation.

  • The gross vehicle weight rating is calculated by this formula:


    GVWR = trailer capacity + trailer weight
  • Let’s break this down further – the trailer capacity is the weight defined by manufac­turers that your trailer can hold, safely. Typically, this is an exact weight printed and displayed on the vehicle. On the other hand, trailer weight is the combined weight of cargo hauled in the trailer.

  • Unfor­tu­nately, sometimes fleet managers make the mistake of forgetting to include added accessories that contribute to the gross vehicle weight. That’s why it's important for fleet managers to engage with drivers and dock workers loading the trailer, to ensure they are aware of the GVWR and consider all contri­bu­tions to the gross weight.

How to ensure gross vehicle weight compliance

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How to ensure gross vehicle weight compliance

Although fleet managers are responsible for enforcing GVWR, other employees as mentioned above should be in the loop. An initial training program would be the best way to implement employee knowledge on the subject. And always remember to check the regulation for your specific region. However, here is a general guideline of things to consider:

  • If there are added accessories, make sure to include it in the GVWR calculation
  • Include weight of passengers
  • Which regions will the trailer be driven in?
  • What is the approximate gross weight of cargo?
  • Do the truck make, model and year affect the total GVWR?

For more information, contact one of our experts. To learn more about fleet optim­isation, visit our fleet optim­isation or fleet management software page.

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