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Overloaded Trucks Can Be Deadly

By David Boehrer | Posted on February 20, 2020

Overloaded trucks are at high risk of causing deadly truck accidents because they are harder to maneuver, mechanical failure is more probable, and the force of impact is greater if a crash occurs. Commercial trucks must comply with maximum weight limits to prevent accidents and fatal injuries.

Dangers of Overloaded Trucks

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulates commercial vehicle weight limits for all commercial trucks that travel on U.S. Interstate Highways. Overloading a commercial truck is illegal under federal and state laws, although each state may set their own weight standards for intrastate travel.

To promote traffic safety and prevent trucking accidents, FHWA sets maximum weight limits for commercial trucks at 80,000 pounds, with a limit of 20,000 pounds on a single axle. The distribution of weight on wheels and axles plays an important role in a truck’s structural stability during travel. Since commercial trucks have a high center of gravity, they can become unstable when they are overloaded or when cargo weight is not evenly distributed. An overloaded truck creates deadly dangers on the road including:

  • Brake failure
  • Tire blowouts
  • Uncontrolled downhill speeds
  • Longer stopping distances
  • Collapsed bridges and overpasses
  • Rollover crashes

Overloaded trucks have a higher risk of mechanical problems that can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. When loading cargo, truck drivers and cargo handlers must pay close attention to the vehicle’s identification plate which states the maximum permissible gross vehicle weight and the maximum permissible axle weight under federal regulations.

For maximum safety, all cargo must be evenly distributed and properly secured throughout the truck. If one side is heavier than the other, simple maneuvers such as making turns or changing lanes can result in deadly accidents. Unsecured cargo can affect the truck’s weight distribution. If cargo falls or shifts during transit, the truck can flip over during turns and lane changes. Uneven weight distribution and improperly secured cargo are major factors in many truck rollover crashes seen by Henderson truck accident lawyers.

According to federal trucking regulations, truck drivers are required to inspect their cargo at certain points during travel. A driver must inspect cargo within the first 50 miles of travel, after driving 3 hours or 150 miles, and when changing his/her duty status. Drivers who fail to comply with these regulations may be held liable for injuries if a problem with the truck’s cargo causes an accident. Under the Doctrine of Respondeat Superior, a driver’s employer can also be held liable for employee negligent acts or omissions when committed within the scope of employment.

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