Why Improperly Loaded Trucks Are So Dangerous

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By Tyler Hall, Esq.

Improperly Loading Cargo May Cause a Truck Accident

When a semi-truck is improperly loaded, it oftentimes puts countless people in considerable danger. Due to the size and weight of these trucks, these types of motor vehicle collisions are some of the most severe.

Crashes involving semi-trucks commonly impact countless others in traffic, including anyone who happens to be caught in the massive vehicle’s wake. This puts small cars on the road at the mercy of truck drivers and their adherence to loading safety protocols.

And since these accidents usually happen on busy roadways, they’re rarely contained to one or two vehicles. The collisions will often snowball until, by the end, a shocking number of vehicles may be involved in the crash – many of the occupants will now be in need of a personal injury lawyer.

The causes for semi-truck accidents are varied, but a major one is that a truck was not loaded properly. Improper loading itself comes in various forms, so it’s important for drivers to fully understand all the dangers when packing up their load.

An Unbalanced Load

An unbalanced load occurs when the cargo’s weight has an uneven distribution. This has a huge impact on the vehicle’s handling and may make it impossible to deal with unexpected road conditions.

Side winds, unfamiliar roadways with sharp turns, black ice or any situation in which you’d have to brake or swerve becomes exponentially more dangerous with an unbalanced load. The cargo may also weigh too heavily on the frame, tires, suspension and axle housing, wearing them out over time.

If there’s too much weight in the front, it often leads to especially sensitive brakes. This type of improper loading is what frequently leads to semi-truck trailers swinging from side to side, a frightening and highly dangerous phenomenon that truckers commonly refer to as “trailer swing.”

If the weight distribution is balanced toward the trailer’s rear, it ends up lifting weight from the truck’s front tires. As any seasoned driver would know, this has a seriously negative impact on the handling of the vehicle.

When the load is distributed too much on one side or the other, it might result in the truck rolling over when a sharp turn is made. Some turns may be tighter than they seem at first, and it doesn’t take too sharp a corner to roll a truck at high speeds when it’s hauling a poorly distributed load.

Sometimes, the brakes on one side will lock up when cargo is unevenly distributed in this way, and that’s what many times causes jackknife collisions. This is when a semi-truck’s trailer pushes the semi to the side – or completely backward – so that by the end, the truck and trailer resemble a pocketknife.

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An Overweight Load

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), assigned to each semi-truck by its manufacturer, is not to be taken lightly. It specifies the maximum amount of weight that the semi is able to tow.

This is why you see so many weigh stations when driving along any given stretch of freeway. Truck drivers are quite familiar with the necessary regular stops at these stations throughout their routes. There may simply be too much cargo which results in the truck trying to haul too much weight to be safely transported at highway speeds. It’s crucial for drivers to be aware of how much they’re hauling.

Hills, both the ascent and descent, are a big danger with improperly loaded cargo when overweight loads come into play. On declines, truckers may find themselves going much faster than they want to, and having no way of slowing down.

It takes much more braking power to stop an overweight load – often more than the truck can supply. Thus, the distance it takes for an overburdened semi-truck to stop is considerably longer than it usually would be. You’ll also notice a big difference in steering. An overweight load can weigh down the steering axle, making it more difficult to steer the truck, especially when quick action needs to be taken.

An Unsecured Load

Cargo that hasn’t been properly secured easily results in items shifting and toppling around, which causes a sudden change in weight distribution. When a load hasn’t been tied down correctly, the trailer’s center of gravity also shifts constantly, leading to unexpected changes that prevent the truck from handling the way the driver needs it to.

Lost cargo is also a risk, and it presents a huge danger to other vehicles on the road. These surprising obstacles may cause drivers to swerve to avoid them and result in a collision. Ejected cargo might even hit other vehicles directly.

If you’ve been in a New Jersey accident and need reliable, friendly legal assistance, RAM Law can help you. Call our offices now at (732) 247-3600 to be connected with a personal injury lawyer who will work hard for you.

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To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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