Improper Loading A Leading Factor In Truck Accidents and Injuries
From produce and packages to building supplies and fuel, semi-tractor trailers and 18 wheelers end up hauling a variety of the goods and materials we rely on every day. Generally, it is the responsibility of the truck driver to ensure their cargo is loaded property, in order to prevent truck accidents and injuries. Trucking companies also have an obligation to ensure their drivers conform with federal safety practices in loading, and can be held liable in the event accidents due to improper loading occur.
Truck Accidents Involving Improper Loads
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), having improperly loaded cargo is one of the leading factors in truck accidents, making these accidents even more common than those involving alcohol use on the part of the truck driver. Through its Large Truck Accident Causation Study, the FMCSA studied more than 140,000 truck accidents that occurred over a three year period, and found that 6,000 of them involved cargo that was unsecured, loaded unevenly, or over established weight limits. In semi-trucks and other big rigs, improper loading practices can have devastating consequences on roads and highways, and could result in the following:
- Loads that shift, causing the truck to swerve, jackknife, or rollover;
- Overweight loads that cause damage to the truck’s mechanical systems, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle;
- Leaks of dangerous chemicals and hazardous substances;
- Unsecured items blowing or falling into the path of other drivers.
In these types of circumstances, drivers and the trucking company itself may be liable for any property damages or injuries that result.
Federal Rules Relating To Truck Loading Practices
Trucking companies are required to adhere to federal guidelines, which are outlined in the Driver’s Handbook for Cargo Securement, and are required to train their drivers in proper loading practices. Under these guidelines, cargo must be properly distributed and secured, must not exceed federal weight limits, and must not prevent any of the truck’s parts, such as doors or latches, from being secured. In addition to keeping cargo safely contained within the vehicle, it must be loaded in such as way as not to do the following:
- Obscure the driver’s view, either to the front, back, or sides;
- Interfere with the movement of the driver’s arms or legs;
- Prevent the driver’s access to truck equipment or accessories used in the event of an emergency;
- Prevent the exit of the driver from the cab or other compartments.
As drivers encounter a variety of road, traffic, and weather conditions, loading must be done in such a way that if cargo does shift while in transit, the force will not adversely affect the driver’s control of the truck or result in an accident.
Have You Been Injured In A Truck Accident? We Can Help
Contact Gregg Wexler at the Wexler Law Firm, P.A. if you or someone you care about is involved in a truck accident. We conduct our own investigations, to help determine the underlying cause so you can hold responsible parties accountable. Call or contact our office online today and request a consultation with our West Palm Beach truck accident attorney.