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Every day, thousands of trucks transport hundreds of cargos on German roads – both leading to other European countries and local roads inside Germany. Annually, this gives a few billion tonnes of the transported goods across the German road network. This is why Germans scrupulously fine the owners and drivers of overloaded trucks.

According to the German catalogue of fines for trucks, a vehicle is overloaded when its gross vehicle weight is exceeded by more than 2%. The tolerance is therefore small.

Such restrictive regulations have been implemented due to enormous threats posed by overloaded trucks, which can do much more damage than accidents involving passenger cars. With the additional weight, vehicle compartments cannot work as expected. For example, breaking time of a truck is many times longer. This creates a special danger to other road users.

In the case of overloaded vehicles, German regulations provide for fines and penalty points recorded in a special register for both the driver and the vehicle owner.

Detailed scale of charges can be found in table below:

Vehicles with GVW up to 7.5 tonnes

Overload Fine for the driver Points for the driver Fine for the vehicle owner Points for the vehicle owner
over 5% 10 euros 10 euros
over 10% 30 euros 30 euros
over 15% 35 euros 35 euros
over 20% 95 euros 1 95 euros 1
over 25% 140 euros 1 140 euros 1
over 30% 235 euros 1 235 euros 1

Vehicles with GVW above 7.5 tonnes

Overload Fine for the driver Points for the driver Fine for the vehicle owner Points for the vehicle owner
over 2-5% 30 euros 35 euros
over 5% 80 euros  1 140 euros
over 10% 110 euros  1 235 euros
over 20% 190 euros 1 380 euros 1
over 25% 285 euros 1 425 euros 1
over 30% 380 euros 1 425 euros 1

For comparison, in Poland the penalties for exceeded axle loads are specified in art. 140ab of the Road Traffic Act and are as follows:

a) approx. EUR 120 – when the load of one of more axles, vehicle total weight or dimensions exceed the allowable limits by no more than 10%,
b) approx. EUR 500 – when the load of one of more axles, vehicle total weight or dimensions exceed the allowable limits by more than 10% and no more than 20%,

The highest fine can amount as much as EUR 4000.

Responsibility for overloaded truck

Let’s take a look at the standard situation – the carrier receives an order from the sender to transport the goods weighing 24,000 kg. Such weight is entered into the transport order. The carrier sends a suitable truck that can accommodate the goods without exceeding the vehicle’s GVW. The goods were loaded by the sender, the driver was handed over the CMR bill of lading, showing the weight of 24,000 kg. The driver moves on.

The vehicle was weighted during the road check and it was overloaded. As it turned out, the actual weight was different than the one in the CMR list. Both the driver and the entrepreneur were subject to administrative penalty for the overload.

Unfortunately, in most cases, fighting against such penalty is futile. It is especially true for the German courts, who clearly rule that the carrier cannot count on entries and information received from the sender. In case of doubt, the carrier should go to the nearest weighing station and verify the actual weight. The fact that in many cases this is impossible and it is a phenomenon unknown in practice is not sufficient for the courts and offices. Therefore, despite the sender’s fault, the fine is imposed on the carrier.

It is possible to claim compensation

In such cases, the carrier is entitled to claim compensation from the sender, in line with art. 7 of the CMR Convention, which states that the sender is responsible for all costs and damages that can be suffered by the carrier due to inaccurate or insufficient information entered in the CMR bill of landing.

Additionally, art. 8 (1) of the CMR Convention says that upon accepting the goods, the carrier is obliged to check the accuracy of the data in the bill of landing in terms of number of items, their characteristics and numbers, visible condition and packaging. There is nothing about the obligation to check the axle load, which seems to confirm the lack and responsibility of the carrier for an obstacle in transport arising because of this. The fault of the sender is confirmed by the fact that he/she entered incorrect weight in the bill of landing. The sender should also be responsible for the loss of profits, however, this is extremely difficult to prove.

Foto: Wikimedia/Wusel007 CC SA 3.0
Copywrights: TransLawyers.eu

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