The Consequences of Overloading Semi-Trucks

June 30, 2021 Truck Accident Blog

The Risks Associated With Overloading Semi-trucks

Trucks carry over 72.5% of all the cargo transported through the U.S. Semi-trucks are larger and wider than other vehicles, so there are therefore various regulations established at the state and federal levels to ensure safe operations. Here are some of the dangers associated with overloading such trucks.

Too Much Weight Can Lead to Tire Failure

There is a growing demand for cargo transportation, which has led to truck shortages. As a result, some companies choose to overload their vehicles to save on transportation costs and increase payload. Others even go to the extent of modifying the trucks to meet their needs. Such practices can be hazardous, and any company that attempts to overload their vehicles for monetary savings risks incurring substantial penalties.

Excess weight on the truck for a prolonged period causes tires to wear out. After a period of time, the tires will blow out, making the driver lose control. Once the tires burst, it’s also tricky for the driver to move an overloaded truck away from the road, which can cause collisions with other vehicles.

Overloading Leads to Loss of Control

Heavily loaded trucks can take 20% to 40% longer to stop compared to other vehicles. The stopping power decreases significantly on wet and slippery roads. This creates a potential for serious accidents not unless the driver is so experienced to handle such challenging situations.

A driver can misjudge the distance needed to maneuver safely. Also, an overloaded truck may pick up too much speed when going down a hill. At a high velocity, the truck may not stop in time, leading to severe accidents.

It Can Lead to Road Damage

Commercial trucks should not weigh more than 80,000 pounds, unless they have a special permit. This includes the weight of both the truck and the load. However, each truck has its own carrying capacity, so smaller semi-trucks should not carry the same cargo as larger ones. The main reason why most roads have weight restrictions is to protect them from damages like potholes and cracks. Note that some road structures like bridges cannot handle weight beyond a specific limit. If a truck has more weight than a bridge can take, the bridge can collapse.

The Weight Can Cause Mechanical Failure

Semi-truck manufacturers put in place the weight limit that the vehicle can handle. A heavy load will strain different vehicle mechanisms. When parts like the suspension components get damaged, it reduces the truck’s ability to respond to impacts. The suspension mechanism consists of shock absorbers, springs, the air in the tires, bushings, and struts. These components prevent the truck from bouncing off the road. They also protect it from impact if the driver goes over a bump or rough terrain.

Overloading a semi-truck leads to transmission system failure. The system will have to work harder to run. If the transmission system fails when uphill, the truck can easily roll down, putting the driver’s life and others at risk. An overloaded truck is also likely to have an axle snap, whereby some wheels lose power and they no longer turn, even when the engine is still running. The truck begins to pull to one side, putting other drives on the roads at risk.

Overloaded Trucks Worsen Road Accidents

Auto accidents involving an overloaded semi-truck can be very traumatic. Heavier trucks have more force, even at the same speed as lighter vehicles. Hence, if an overloaded truck gets into a collision, it generates a more significant impact, resulting in tragic accidents.

Additionally, when you stack the truck with too much load, the equipment used to secure the cargo may not be adequate. You end up putting too much weight on one side of the vehicle. Unsecured cargo can easily tip over the truck onto the roadway or other cars. The load can also injure the person who will open the truck door during delivery.

Such accidents can cause massive damage to occupants of other vehicles. If you or your loved one gets into an accident involving an overloaded truck, contact a trucking accident attorney. They will assess the cause of the accident and help the victims get their deserved compensation.

It Affects Brakes Performance

Too much weight also wears down the braking system. Remember that the load reduces the truck’s stopping power, so the driver will have to push the brakes harder in an attempt to bring the semi-truck to a halt. The extra pressure required to slow down the vehicle, especially while on a slope, will eventually cause brake failure, leaving the driver with no time to steer the vehicle to safety.

An Overloaded Truck Can Easily Overturn

Overloading a truck increases the risk of rolling over. If the load is too heavy for the big rig to bear, it pulls the vehicle to one side, especially when taking a bend. Worse still, if the truck is top-heavy, it can roll over in windy weather. Other conditions like rain, snow, and ice also increase the risk of rollover accidents.

A Heavy Load Makes it Difficult to Steer

Once a semi-truck carries excess weight, it increases the risk of jackknifing. This happens when the trailer pushes the cab until it appears as if it’s facing backward. The excess load makes it difficult for the driver to steer appropriately since the cargo responds differently. If the truck fails to respond well to the steer, this increases the chances of causing collisions and other fatal accidents on the road.

An Overloaded Truck Causes Congestion

You are more likely to see more semi-trucks on the highway at a given time. When such trucks ship a huge load beyond the recommended limit, they take up more space on the road. The trucks are not able to move fast, leading to congestion. If the cargo stacked on the semi-truck budges to the sides, it can injure motorists and pedestrians. In such a case, the victim has the right to seek compensation. Reach out to a trucking accident attorney, and they will guide you in the processes involved.

Bottom Line

Everybody in a company who deals with cargo deliveries from the CEO and transportation manager to the drivers needs to be aware of the dangers of overloading. While every motorist is at risk of experiencing a road accident, crashes involving an overloaded truck can be more dangerous. As a driver, although you might feel experienced enough to handle an overloaded truck, accidents might still happen due to some simple mistakes. To be on the safe side, it is a good idea that you comply with all the regulations. Ensure that you distribute the cargo’s weight evenly on the semi-truck for balance. Secure the load tightly to prevent fall-offs, and keep the load within the allowable weight. This way, you will ensure that everybody is safe on the road and avoid heavy penalties.

Unfortunately, a person who is injured by an overloaded truck can face long recovery periods, high medical bills, and a loss of wages. In such a case, you need a trucking accident attorney to investigate the accident and gather evidence that will help you receive full and fair compensation. If you are in such a situation, reach out to us at Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P. – RAM Law, and we will review your case. Call our offices in New Brunswick, New Jersey, at (732) 394-1549 today.

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