18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks are one of the primary means of transporting heavy cargo across the country. Because of the sheer weight of the cargo and its impact of the truck's maneuverability, there are several key safety regulations and protocols that must be followed in order to ensure the vehicles are loaded properly. These regulations must be followed not only by the truck driver, but by the workers on the loading dock who are responsible for loading the cargo into the truck.
Common Hazards Involving Truck Cargo
Overloading – Trucks are designed with a specific maximum weight amount they can safely transport. Sometimes, in effort to move more cargo in a single trip, trucks will be loaded with more cargo than they are designed to carry. Overloading a truck can cause an accident for a variety of reasons. Longer stopping distances can lead to rear-end collisions. Too much weight on the tires can cause a blowout. Too much stress on the mechanical components can lead to a breakdown. Increased speed while traveling downhill and decreased speed while traveling uphill can put other motorists at risk.
Improperly securing cargo – Failing to properly secure or load the cargo into the trailer presents several dangers. Shifting cargo can cause the truck to jackknife or rollover when making sharp turns. Shifting cargo can also make the truck more difficult to steer and maneuver. Finally, improperly loaded cargo is more likely to break free of the trailer and spill on the road.
Regulations require that all cargo be firmly immobilized and secure in the trailer. This can be done by using tie down apparatuses or shoring bars to secure the cargo in place. The cargo must also not exceed the maximum weight limits that the truck is designed to transport. Additionally, the cargo cannot be placed in a position that would obscure the driver's line of sight or ability to access emergency equipment. Finally, specific rules are in place for truck drivers who are transporting hazardous materials and other items such as vehicles, lumber, concrete pipe, and heavy equipment and machinery.
If you or a loved was involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney to understand your legal rights. Contact the attorneys at Arnold & Itkin today for a free consultation.