Truck Accidents Due to Improper Loading
Large trucks are a vital part of the distribution of goods. Because they can carry such a wide variety of items, it is critical for trailers to be properly loaded, or accidents can result.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement. This book is a guide that is intended to be used by trucking companies to make sure that cargo is properly loaded and secured. These loading guidelines dictate that:
- Cargo must be properly and firmly secured.
- Cargo must be on a vehicle that is equipped to hold it.
- Cargo that is prone to rolling must be restrained.
- If the cargo extends beyond the width or length of the vehicle by four inches or more, the overhang must be indicated by the use of colored lights attached to the load.
- Sufficient tiedown restraints must be used.
There are also special requirements for vehicles that carry particular types of cargo, like cars, concrete pipes, heavy machinery, or steel beams.
Types of Truck Loads
A trucking company must choose the proper type of truck for the load that it is required to haul. A truck must be capable of hauling the chosen cargo in a safe and secure manner.
- Dry van trucks are the most common type. These are the typical kind that you think of when you picture a tractor-trailer. They are a standard length of 53 feet and are basically a big enclosed box that hauls merchandise for major retailers.
- Refrigerated trucks carry items that need to be kept refrigerated or frozen.
- Auto carriers haul cars and trucks.
- Dump trucks carry garbage or landscaping material.
- Tanker trucks are used to carry liquids, most commonly different types of fuel.
- Flatbed trucks have a long, open deck for carrying large and bulky items.
- Step-deck trucks are similar to flatbed trucks but are lower to the ground to keep the center of gravity low to allow for safely transporting taller loads.
Improper Loading Accidents
If a truck is not chosen correctly for the cargo it’s hauling or is loaded improperly, a dangerous situation occurs. The truck can be unevenly balanced, top-heavy, or too light. Jackknife accidents, rollover accidents, or sideswiping collisions can occur. If a load of loose material is improperly secured, cargo can fall off the truck and impact other vehicles. These types of accidents are particularly dangerous when the truck is traveling at high speed on highways or freeways, which of course are used by trucks very frequently when transporting loads long distances.
A truck hauling typical dry materials like store merchandise can rollover if the weight is unevenly balanced or the materials shift from one side to the other due to insufficient restraints. Trucks carrying automobiles or heavy equipment can lose the load if it is not properly secured by harnesses or tie-downs. Most dangerously, tanker trucks often carry dangerous, toxic, or flammable liquids that can cause catastrophic injury if they spill or explode.
Needless to say, any vehicle that is nearby when a truck experiences the consequences of improper loading is in grave danger. Not only can your vehicle be hit by the truck itself, but if you are in the path of a suddenly unsecured load of heavy material, you may be critically injured or killed. Improper loading accidents are dangerous and preventable. If trucks are properly chosen for their cargo and properly loaded, collisions, crashes, and injuries should not occur.