Commercial vehicles, like semi-trucks, pose an enormous risk to others on the road, simply because they are so tall, wide, and heavy. Recognizing how dangerous these kinds of vehicles are in the event of a truck accident, federal regulators actually limit how much commercial trucks can weigh. Semi-trucks, for example, can’t weigh more than 80,000 pounds when loaded with cargo. Overlooking these rules is extremely dangerous to anyone else on the road, who could be injured if the truck is involved in a collision or cargo comes loose and spills onto the road.
In terms of commercial vehicle cargo, overloading a truck happens when a truck is loaded with such a heavy load that it exceeds the federal government’s weight limits. Many companies engage in overloading in an effort to maximize their profits, while in other cases, overloading may simply be the result of a lack of training or oversight. Whatever the cause, trucks are much more likely to experience mechanical issues when they carry more weight than they are designed to transport. These kinds of mechanical problems can then cause a driver to lose control of the truck and collide with other vehicles. For instance, large trucks have multiple sets of brakes because stopping the increased momentum of a truck carrying extra weight is so difficult. Wear and tear on these systems could cause them to fail, making it almost impossible to stop the vehicle to avoid a collision.
The Force of Collision
The difference between the force of a collision with a truck that is overloaded versus an accident between two small passenger cars can also not be overstated. Because they outweigh passenger cars, sometimes by as much 75,000 pounds, the occupants of smaller vehicles can expect to sustain catastrophic property damage and injuries if they are involved in a crash with a much larger commercial vehicle.
The Risk of Rollover Accidents
Overloading a truck, besides raising the chances of mechanical defect and vastly increasing the force of a collision also make it more likely that a truck will roll over. This is because, when the cargo in a truck is stacked higher over the length of a truck, trucks are more at risk of overturning. Rollover accidents are notorious for being particularly dangerous for the parties involved, especially when one of the vehicles is a commercial truck. These vehicles, because they are so much larger, cover a lot more ground when they roll over, colliding with vehicles in multiple lanes of traffic. Furthermore, they are often carrying cargo, which can spill in the event of a rollover, colliding with other vehicles and causing additional crashes. This can be even more devastating when the cargo being transported is particularly dangerous. This includes cargo like construction equipment, lumber, and building materials, all of which can cause devastating injuries to other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians if it comes loose.
Liability for Overloading a Commercial Truck
Trucking companies are required to comply with strict rules when it comes to how they load their vehicles. They must, for instance, use certain types of straps, tie-downs, ropes, and tarps depending on the weight and type of the cargo being transported. The number of restraints that must be used is also predetermined based on the size of the cargo. One tie-down, for instance, will be required for cargo that is less than five feet in length and weighs less than 1,100 pounds. As the weight and length of the cargo increases, however, so does the required number of tie-downs.
Cargo that can roll during transit must also be secured with wedges, cradles, and chocks to avoid shifting while in transit. Failing to employ these methods can be dangerous, as it significantly increases the risk that the cargo will come loose, either during a collision or after a crash. The risk is even higher when there is too much cargo, as there is really no way to secure it in a safe manner. Fortunately, it is possible for accident victims to recover compensation for any losses they sustain in a truck accident because it was overloaded or improperly loaded by the trucking company or a third party.
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