The various components of a commercial truck go through a lot more wear and tear than most vehicles, partly due to the number of miles driven and partly because of the heaviness of the vehicles. For these reasons, things like the brakes and tires on commercial vehicles need to be inspected regularly and replaced often to reduce the chances of causing a crash. Many people, however, don’t know that a truck’s cargo can also play a significant role in causing accidents. If heavy cargo is stacked or loaded incorrectly, for instance, the vehicle’s center of gravity could be affected, causing a driver to lose control of the truck. There is also a risk that unsecured cargo will fall out, or off of, a trailer while in transit. To learn more about who can be held liable for these kinds of accidents, reach out to our dedicated Tucson truck accident legal team today.
Top-Heavy Trailers Can Rollover
One of the greatest risks of improperly loading cargo in a truck is that a top-heavy trailer runs the risk of rolling over when a driver turns, changes lanes, or merges quickly. If, when executing this maneuver, the weight in the truck shifts too much, it can actually knock the trailer over, causing the entire vehicle to roll. Strong gusts of wind can also tip a top-heavy trailer over, with the broad sides of the trailer basically acting like the sails on a boat.
The Risk of Jackknife Accidents
Another potential consequence of overloading or improperly loading a tractor-trailer is a jackknife accident. These kinds of accidents occur when the cab portion of a truck comes to a stop, but the trailer part keeps going, swinging out to a 90 degree angle, much like a folding jackknife. Back-heavy trailers are more likely to jackknife, especially when a driver tries to stop suddenly.
Overloaded Brakes Can Cause Rear-End Collisions
The brakes of commercial vehicles are specially designed and manufactured to withstand a lot of punishment, but even they have their limitations. When a truck is carrying too much weight, or when cargo is situated over only one axle, the brakes could take a lot longer to engage and could even fail to work at all. Unfortunately, this can result in rear-end collisions, which, while always dangerous, are especially devastating when commercial trucks are involved. Because they are so much higher off the ground than standard passenger-sized vehicles, it is not uncommon for a vehicle that rear-ends a semi-truck to become lodged underneath it. These kinds of accidents often prove to be fatal for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
Loose Cargo in the Road
Vehicles that are traveling behind overloaded tractor-trailers could also be in danger if the cargo in those trucks isn’t properly secured. Loose pieces of freight that aren’t tied down properly can fall off a flatbed trailer or even bounce out of a closed trailer, striking the cars nearby or causing drivers to veer out of the way to avoid it.
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