Overloaded Trucks on the Road
January 8, 2020
A commercial tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. The massive weight of these large trucks poses a significant risk of serious injuries when involved in a collision, especially a collision with a passenger vehicle. When truck drivers allow their rigs to exceed the maximum load weight, they put everyone on the road at risk for catastrophic injuries and fatalities when an accident occurs.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets maximum weight limits for each class of tractor trailer on the road, referred to as the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). Weigh stations are set up on major interstates and highways to allow safety officials to check for overloaded trucks. Weight limits are determined by the truck’s type of tires, axles, drivetrain, frame, engine, and braking system. Stickers on commercial trucks indicate the maximum load the truck can carry.
What are the Risks of Overloaded Trucks?
Plenty of research, testing, and analysis has gone into setting the maximum weight limits on commercial trucks. The risks to people and property increase dramatically when weights exceed safety limits. The most dangerous risks include:
- Mechanical Failure: Excess weight on a commercial truck puts a tremendous amount of strain on the truck’s mechanics, such as brake systems, axles, and drivetrains. This stress can cause the truck to lose control. When this happens, injuries and damage to life and property can be catastrophic.
- Improper Loading: When trucks exceed their maximum cargo weight, roll-over and jackknife accidents are common. Shifting of unstable cargo is a common cause of truck accidents that result in fatalities for the truck driver and those in passenger vehicles.
- Brake Failure: Brake failure on a commercial truck is a very dangerous situation. Trucks that are overloaded put stress on the braking system where the brakes can seize or prevent the truck from stopping effectively. The heavier the load, the longer it will take for the truck to stop. Overloaded trucks often crash when brakes are not equipped to handle the excess weight.
- Inclement Weather: Snow, heavy rain, ice, and hail increase the risk of an accident, but when commercial trucks are carrying loads that exceed the maximum weight limit, inclement weather conditions can become fatal.
- Unsecured Cargo: When a tractor trailer or flatbed trailer are overloaded, it may not be possible to fully secure the cargo. When this happens, the risk of shifting weight and rollover accidents increases dramatically.
What to Do If You are Involved in a Truck Accident
Anytime a commercial truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the risks for serious injury and death are high. Survivors of truck accidents usually require surgery, hospitalization, physical and cognitive therapy, and prescription medications. The costs of ongoing medical care combined with lost wages can devastate a victim’s finances.
Whenever a truck accident occurs, victims should consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. A competent truck accident lawyer will conduct a full investigation to reveal the cause of the crash. When truck drivers or fleet owners knowingly overload their trucks, they can be held liable for damages and injuries.
Philadelphia Semi Truck Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Represent Victims of Overloaded Truck Accidents
If you are injured in an accident with an overloaded commercial truck, contact the Philadelphia semi-truck accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-8792 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.