According to statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 87,000 injury crashes in the U.S. involving large trucks in the one-year span between 2014 and 2015.
A big rig might crash because of engine malfunction or brake failure. The driver might feel drowsy or distracted. However, there is also one less obvious but still major cause of a truck-related accident: overloaded cargo.
Overloaded cargo can easily shift when the truck driver goes around a curve too fast or makes a sudden course correction. Improperly positioned cargo can cause the truck to be off balance, which could put the vehicle at risk of a rollover. In such a circumstance, you do not want to be in the small pickup truck next to the big, off-balance truck while traveling at 60 miles per hour down the freeway.
New truck drivers should receive training on proper loading procedures. Overloading could present a risky situation for a driver who does not have the experience to know how this kind of issue affects driving performance. For example, if there is an excessive amount of cargo on board, normal braking distances will increase. The truck will also go down a hill much faster, and an inexperienced driver may lose control of the big rig.
Looking for trouble
You might be able to spot a potentially overloaded 18-wheeler. For one thing, the truck’s tires will likely show a good bit of wear, since carrying too much cargo will cause them to run hotter and wear out sooner than they should. The truck might be drifting back and forth in its lane as if there are control problems. A sag in the vehicle’s rear end could also point to possible overloading. You might want to hang back at a safe distance or find an opening so you can move ahead of the truck.
Because of its sheer size and weight, a big rig will almost always come out ahead in a truck-car collision. If you are the victim, you will be lucky to escape with minor injuries. However, a personal injury attorney will tell you that victims of truck accidents often suffer devastating, life-changing injuries. Your best move on the freeway is to be alert and steer clear of suspected overloaded big rigs.