GCWR vs. GVWR
“Know before you tow,” is an easy way to remind drivers and fleet managers to check their vehicles Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) before putting drivers and vehicles on the road.
At times it can be difficult to determine the GCWR and you may need to take into account the GVWR as well.
What is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)?
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is determined by the manufacturer and takes into account the base curb weight of the vehicle plus the weight of any optional accessories, cargo and passengers.
You should never load a vehicle beyond the listed gross vehicle weight rating.
What is the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR)?
The Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is the maximum safe weight of both:
- the loaded tow vehicle, and
- the loaded trailer
But what is so important about the GCWR? Here we answer your questions.
Where can I find the maximum GCWR for my vehicle?
Manufacturers determine the maximum weight rating for each vehicle, and it can be found on your vehicle placard. However, if this information is not available, it is possible to calculate your own.
How can I calculate my vehicle’s Gross Combination Weight?
You can use the use the following formulas to calculate your vehicle’s GCWR:
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT (GVW):
Vehicle Base Curb Weight
(vehicle + full fuel tank + standard equipment, but NOT passengers)
(cargo + extra equipment + trailer tongue)
LOADED TRAILER WEIGHT (LTW):
Weight of empty trailer
Weight of anything on or inside trailer
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT (GCW)
GVW + LTW (above numbers) = GCW
How do I find the actual weights of these separate items?
A local public scale is needed to weigh either the separate items or weigh a fully loaded vehicle and trailer.
What are the problems with exceeding the GCWR?
- You may damage your vehicle or your trailer by exceeding the weight limits.
- You put your safety and the safety of others at risk.
- You risk being unable to control your loaded vehicle. Slowing and stopping becomes difficult or impossible.
What kind of brakes do I need to manage my vehicle and trailer load?
It’s important to note that vehicle brakes are only rated for the Gross Vehicle Weight, NOT the combined weight.
If the Gross Combined Weight surpasses the Gross Vehicle Weight, you should use separate trailer brakes.
Why is it important to know the GCW?
Single-unit vehicles, by themselves, may not qualify as a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). However, the addition of a trailer—or any weight—may put the vehicle over the threshold, causing it to be considered a CMV.
With the additional weight, this vehicle combination may now require the driver to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), therefore, it is important to know the Gross Combined Weight to ensure that the driver has the proper license.
Knowing your vehicle’s Gross Combined Weight Rating is more than just a policy, it’s also a way to ensure safety is upheld for all drivers on the road.
Study to reduce trucking accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are an unfortunate by-product of driving and fatal crashes among large trucks have risen steadily in the past decade.
The FMCSA seeks to reverse this trend by conducting a study aimed at identifying and reducing factors that contribute to these fatal truck accidents.
Previous crash study findings
In a 2001-2003 Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study (LTCCFS), the FMCSA gained vital information on crash factors. The study found that, when fault was assigned to the large truck, the cause of a vast majority of crashes were driver related. In these cases, it was determined that either driver action or inaction resulted in the crash.
Following this 2001-2003 study, fatal crashes decreased, hitting a low in 2009. However, since 2009, fatal crashes began to increase at a steady rate. By 2018, large truck crashes with at least one fatality or evident injury had increased by 52.6% compared to the 2009 figures.
This continued increase in fatal large truck crashes has the FMCSA seeking answers and calling for a new study to be conducted in an effort to reduce crash factors.
Industry changes may impact crash statistics
It’s been fifteen years since the original crash study. Technology has changed. Driver behavior has shifted. Roadways have been redesigned. And vehicle safety guidelines have been revised. Any one or all these changes could affect driver performance.
Because there are so many potential factors, a new study is needed to determine which factors are indeed contributing to fatal and injurious crashes. The new in-depth study is intended to evaluate crash factors, identify trends and develop safety improvement policies.
Potential new crash factors that need to be assessed in this proposed study include:
- cell phone and texting distractions
- driver restraint use
- in-cab navigation systems
- fleet management systems
- automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems
Data collection through driver assistance systems
The previous study was conducted via data collection by a two-person team through interviews and investigations of up to 1,000 elements of a crash. One goal of this new study is that the current driver assistance systems installed in many fleets will provide additional useful data.
FMCSA calls for proposals to conduct new study
The FMCSA seeks industry input in designing their new study and are currently accepting submission of comments and related materials so they can plan how to design and conduct this new large truck crash factor study.
Visit www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions to submit any suggestions.
Per the FMCSA request for information, submissions should answer these questions:
- Should FMCSA pursue a nationally representative sampling approach or can convenience sampling serve the needs?
- What type of study are you recommending (e.g., nationally representative vs. convenience sampling), and what are the pros and cons of this approach?
- How important is it for the new study results to be comparable with findings of the original LTCCS?
- What other sources of data can enrich the new study? How can they be identified and included?
Submissions are open until March 16, 2020.
Use Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2019-0277 when submitting proposals, comments, and materials.
Submit via the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking portal: Visit www.regulations.gov and follow the on-line instructions for submissions
- Mail: Docket Management Facility; US Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001
- Hand delivery or courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays
- Fax: 1-202-493-2251
Hopefully, with enhanced data collection, and the support of submissions from the industry, the sobering upward trend of fatal large truck crashes can be reversed and reduced to create a safer roadway for everyone.
Safety is our priority
Safety is the most important thing when it comes to truck driving. We offer a long list of DOT related training for all levels of experience, including full new driver training, defensive driving, accident procedures, full CDL driver training and so much more.
In any of our DOT training programs, safety is our priority.