Overweight and unbalanced cargo can be a big problem for 18-wheeler drivers and an even bigger problem for motorists nearby.

Overloaded trucks are a leading cause of truck-related accidents, and the drivers of smaller, lighter vehicles are often the victims.

Overloading risks

Trucking companies and their drivers must follow various state and federal regulations, and most do. However, the practice of overloading is ongoing. Delivering more cargo translates to bringing in more profit, and that often makes the risks seem worthwhile. However, an overweight load can shift, which makes a loss of control a very real possibility for the truck driver.

Control problems

Overloaded cargo will require longer braking distances as well as more power applied to the brakes, problems that a novice driver may not understand until it is too late. For example, a braking emergency may develop for the driver of an overloaded 18-wheeler, who must proceed down an incline, because the truck will travel at a faster speed than anticipated.

Safety concerns

Overloading also accelerates wear-and-tear not only on brakes, but also on other components, such as axles. Tires will run hotter on an overloaded truck, wear out faster and raise the risk of a blowout. Repetitive unbalanced payloads can cause equipment failure, which, in turn, can cause accidents resulting in personal injuries. Most motorists cannot detect an overloaded big rig unless the truck begins to drift out of its lane or starts to lean if rounding a curve too quickly. Speed plus an unbalanced load can result in a devastating rollover.

Responsibility issues

Cases involving truck-car crashes can be complex because negligence for the accident is often spread among multiple parties. In the case of an overloaded big rig, fault may lie not only with the truck driver, but also with the trucking company, the company or person who loaded the truck, and possibly the company in charge of maintenance. A thorough investigation to determine responsibility becomes essential because any motorist injured in a truck-car crash deserves full and fair compensation for medical expenses and more.

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