Big rig accidents have many causes, from vehicle problems to driver error. Problems with the cargo carried on these large vehicles can also attribute to crashes, especially when the truck is overloaded. When investigating these events, truck accident lawyers look at all details about the load, including load weight and distribution. Overloaded trailers are a definite factor in many accidents that result in injuries and costly damage.
Tractor Trailers and Federal Weight Limits
Every class of truck on the highways today has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and a load weight limit associated with it. These limits restrict the total amount of cargo that each vehicle can legally carry based on its size, type, and how the truck is designed to carry cargo. Cargo weight limits are important for a number of reasons. They protect the roadways and truck accident lawyers stress that cargo weight regulations also ensure that trucks are being operated within the scope of their function and capacity. When trucks are overloaded, the result can often be deadly big rig accidents.
How Does Overloading Cause Big Rig Accidents?
There are actually a number of ways that overloading cargo on heavy trucks can make big rig accidents more likely, such as the following:
- Vehicle Performance Issues - Tractor trailers are designed to carry a certain amount of cargo weight. When trailers are overloaded to carry more than this amount, vehicle performance can be drastically affected. Slowing the truck down is harder, adding additional wear and tear to the brakes, while the added weight can strain suspension parts and tires beyond their recommended use. There may also be a greater strain on the engine, especially when going uphill. All of these concerns increase the possibility of a mechanical failure that can lead to a deadly accident.
- Trailer Balance Concerns - Overweight trailers are also more likely to suffer balance issues while in motion due to gravitational forces. Negotiating curves becomes more difficult with heavier trucks. Stopping and starting are more likely to result in load shifting that could affect the balance of the trailer. When balance is affected, it is possible for vehicles to sway or slide across lanes or for the trailer hitch to be damaged, both of which can lead to crashes. Balance issues due to overloading becomes especially significant in bad weather.
- Vehicle Control Issues - Between poorer performance and extra strain on mechanical parts as well as the effect it has on trailer balance, truck accident lawyers stress that overloading can easily cause drivers to lose control of their trucks. Whether due to a tire blowout, brake failure, or swerving on a slick road, overweight trucks can become much more difficult to handle, often in unexpected ways.
The message should be very clear. When tractor trailers are loaded beyond their determined capacity, vehicle damage and loss of control are much more likely. The results, as most truck accident lawyers can attest, are often tragic big rig accidents that leave people seriously injured or killed. Preventing these crashes requires better adherence to federal weight limits so that overweight trucks do not drive on the roadways!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190