Trucking companies and independent owner/drivers must avoid overloading to comply with various state and federal regulations. Yet, from the owner’s viewpoint, the potential profit in delivering more cargo is sometimes worth the risk.
Overloaded trucks not only pose safety risks, but they are also expensive to operate, and they expose owners to major liability issues.
Overloaded cargo is vulnerable to shifting. The resulting off-balance distribution could cause the truck to roll over, especially when the driver goes around a curve, changes lanes or alters direction suddenly. With an improperly secured payload, cargo items could fall off the truck into oncoming traffic, which could cause a devastating crash.
Trucking companies should train new drivers in proper loading practices. For example, drivers should:
- Learn that if improperly loaded cargo results in a raised center of gravity, there will be a risk of rollover
- Exercise control of the items they carry as part of the cargo so as to reduce the amount of unnecessary equipment or other items
- Be aware that an overloaded truck will result in diminished emergency handling capabilities. Novice drivers could possibly misjudge braking distances and the braking force needed to bring the truck to a stop.
Safety issues for overloaded trucks extend to increased maintenance needs. In fact, overloading is the primary cause of unscheduled maintenance. An off-balance payload makes tires run hotter and thus creates excessive tire wear. Wear and tear affect other components as well, causing failure rates that occur sooner than they should.
An attorney experienced with truck accident cases will tell you that liability issues are more complex than they are for car crashes because multiple parties are likely to share liability. After a truck crash, there will need to be a thorough investigation in order to establish causation and fault. Those liable could include the driver, the trucking company and the cargo company that might have been responsible for overloading the vehicle. If you are the victim of such an accident, it may comfort you to know that an attorney will pursue a proper settlement on your behalf from every angle.