Dangers of an Improperly Loaded/overloaded Truck
Large trucks, “18 wheelers,” can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, and around 34,000 pounds of that comes from the trailer and cargo. While being able to carry so much cargo is undeniably valuable for both shipping companies and the locations receiving the goods, that’s still around the weight of 10 passenger cars.
If these massive trailers aren’t loaded properly, the driver can very easily lose control of the vehicle, tip over, and cause a catastrophic crash. In order to ensure that trucks are properly loaded, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides all drivers with a handbook that details exactly how to properly load and secure their cargo.
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Some of the more common loading issues for 18 wheelers include:
- Improper Weight Distribution: Whether the cargo is loaded so that the trailer becomes top heavy or if too much of the weight is overloaded on one side, any twist or turn in the road becomes a treacherous hazard that could lead to the truck crashing on its side. Depending on how dangerously the cargo is loaded, even making lane changes may become a dangerous task.
- The Trailer is Overloaded: There’s a reason the FMCSA sets weight limits for all kinds of trucks, and while 18 wheelers have an 80,000 limit, not every truck is built to handle the same amount of cargo. If the trailer is loaded past capacity, it can put an unnecessary and dangerous amount of stress on the vehicle that may lead to a mechanical failure, and will adversely affect how well the truck can brake.
- Improperly Secured Cargo: Even if the cargo’s weight is perfectly distributed and is within the regulated limits, it can still create serious problems if it isn’t properly secured. Not only could shifting cargo change the way the truck handles, but if cargo falls out of the truck, it creates a big danger to others on the road. If the cargo shifts during a turn, it can cause the truck to lose control and flip over on its side.
There should always be multiple people ensuring that the cargo is loaded properly, including the people doing the actual loading and the drivers themselves. It’s also the responsibility of the trucking company to make sure that its employees understand all FMCSA regulations. If any of these parties fail to live up to their responsibilities, it could put every other driver on the road in danger of being involved in a potentially fatal collision.
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