Overloading is a major problem in the trucking industry. Not only does it put drivers and companies in violation of federal regulations, but it also makes trucks inherently less safe and increases the risk of a serious accident.
If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, you may already know how overloading can affect a truck’s stability and safety. Find out if you are entitled to compensation now by calling Bailey, Javins & Carter at 800-497-0234.
What is Overloading?
As the name implies, overloading occurs when a driver, client, or cargo company puts more cargo in a truck than it can safely hold. Each truck has specific limits, and exceeding those limits is a dangerous game. However, overloading can also mean unevenly loading a truck. Weight must be carefully distributed to keep a truck balanced—trucks are already top-heavy and prone to rollovers, and an unbalanced load only heightens that risk.
Overloading a truck causes a number of issues that increase accident rates.
Affects a Truck’s Stability
Overloading a truck has a major impact on its stability. When a truck driver uses muscle memory to drive, that memory is based on what it takes to drive a standard truck. The same maneuvers that would work on a properly loaded truck won’t work with an overloaded vehicle.
Consider a simple lane change. If a truck is unbalanced and has a disproportionate amount of weight on its right side, a quick lane change to the right could cause the truck to swerve out of control or even roll over. When trying to avoid obstacles on the road, a driver may find that they have to put more effort into steering an overloaded truck. When seconds count, it may be too late to move out of the way of another vehicle, person, or animal.
Negatively Impacts Stopping Distance
Remember, the heavier a vehicle is, the harder it is to stop. The more you overload a truck, the less control the driver has over the vehicle. This is particularly dangerous on narrow roads or in heavy traffic, where even a few extra feet of stopping distance can mean a severe crash. Truck drivers go through substantial training before getting their CDL, but that training focuses on regularly loaded trucks—not trucks that push the boundaries of federal regulations and manufacturers’ limits.
Ongoing Road Damage
When a driver has an overloaded truck, their chance of being involved in an accident goes up—but the increased risk of collision doesn’t stop there. Commercial trucks are generally only approved to weigh up to 80,000 pounds, including cargo. When a truck exceeds its limits, it can put more stress on the road than the road can handle. This causes roads to degrade more quickly, and if an overloaded truck travels on bridges, it also increases the risk of a bridge collapse.
May Cause Vehicle Failure
Too much cargo can impact a truck’s performance in every single way—and it’s never positive. Truck tires are incredibly strong and able to bear a substantial amount of weight, but even they have their limits. Overloaded trucks can cause tire blowouts, which often lead to serious traffic accidents. An overloaded vehicle can also experience mechanical failures. Different vehicle components are strained to their limits when overloaded, and with time, they will completely fail.
Some of the parts of a truck impacted by overloading include the brakes, the transmission, and the suspension mechanism. Brakes go through enormous stress, thanks to the fact that truckers must brake harder and earlier to stop an overloaded truck. The suspension system wears down quickly in the face of extra weight. The transmission system has to work much harder in an overloaded vehicle, putting truck drivers at risk of a complete breakdown.
Why do trucks get overloaded? It’s often an issue of money—if a load has to be broken up into two loads, it costs much more to transport. Some cargo companies and trucking companies would rather overload a truck and take the risk than cut into their bottom line.
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