Truck Accidents and Overloaded Trucks
It is well established – and it makes sense – that truck accidents (because of the immense size and weight of the trucks themselves) are some of the deadliest traffic accidents out there. Truck accidents, however, are not always the result of truck driver negligence. The danger can begin even before the trucker gets behind the wheel – in the form of overloaded cargos.
The Dangers Inherent to Overloading
Because overloaded semis are so inherently dangerous, there are various state and federal rules in place that address load limitations. The dangers inherent to overloading include:
Decreased Control – The heavier the rig, the more difficult it is for the truck driver to control. Even those semis that are loaded appropriately require 20 to 40 percent more stopping distance than the vehicles we drive do (according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). The effects of inclement weather increase a truck's stopping distance even more. An overloaded rig is also more difficult to handle in general because the excess weight renders the rig less stable and more difficult to steer, and this decrease in handleability can lead to dangerous accidents.
Damaged Tires – 18-wheelers are tethered to the road by their wheels, and when all 18 are not in safe working order, it makes accidents more likely. The fact is that, when a big rig is overloaded with cargo, it puts undue pressure on its tires and can lead to dangerous tire blowouts (especially when overloading happens consistently). The dangers inherent to tire blowouts are considerable. The flying tire-debris not only puts those in the immediate vicinity at risk of being injured but also endangers oncoming traffic. Further, tire blowouts make it far more difficult for truckers to control their rigs, which increases the danger exponentially.
Excess Wear and Tear on Our Roads – Weight limits for semis are put in place to help keep our roads safe for all who travel on them. Part of this involves maintaining our roads in good condition in the first place. Overloaded trucks lead to excess wear and tear on roads and bridges that can contribute to or directly cause life-threatening accidents.
Why Trucking Companies Choose to Overload
Trucking companies are obviously in strict competition with each other. They are all constrained by the same rules and regulations in the process. When a trucking company is willing to work outside the boundaries of safety restrictions, such as those related to weight limits, it gives them an unfair business advantage. While they increase their profit margins, they also increase the likelihood that they will be responsible for dangerous truck accidents.