Tractor-trailers carry lots of cargo that can weigh up to 33 tons; however, this depends on their capacity. In case the load isn’t secured correctly, it may shift, which may abruptly change the truck’s center of gravity. This can then impact the vehicle’s stability causing it to lose control, crash or overturn.
A study by AAA in the US showed that almost 2,000 accidents were due to debris, with two-thirds resulting from falling items from unsecured loads.
In some cases, improperly secured freights can even lead to property damage through spillage. Additionally, it may cause secondary accidents resulting in severe injuries and death. Victims of such incidences can hire a truck accident lawyer to help them get compensated for injuries or property damage.
What Causes These Accidents
Failure to adequately secure freight on a truck can result in a cargo shift, making the driver lose control. The accidents may be due to the following issues.
The more unevenly distributed a load is, the more difficult it is to drive a truck. As a result, it makes turning difficult and also increases stopping distances.
To secure cargo on a truck, you need steel straps, webbing, and other tie-downs. If any device fails, freight cargo may fall off, leading to accidents.
Stacking Too High
Some truckers tend to pile too many loads to make fewer trips. However, this endangers other road users as it can easily fall off, striking other vehicles.
Rules and Regulations for Securing Cargo
NHTSA and FMCSA authorities developed regulations on the trucking industry to limit the freight weight ferried by trucks and enforce proper cargo securing procedures. Further, they also dispersed truck scales and weighing stations to reduce the rate of road accidents from falling or shifting cargo.
According to FMCSA, truck cargo should be secured and firmly held in place by cradles, chocks, wedges, among others. Generally, truckers should make sure they use effective means that won’t loosen or unfasten while on transit.
That said, every trucking company, its employees, agents, and officers must comply with these rules. They are responsible for hiring, training, driving, or dispatching their trucks according to the regulations.
Accidents Resulting From Unsecured Cargo
Failure to follow all the guidelines to secure cargo may result in accidents. These unsecured cargo accidents can cause property damage, injuries, or even death.
Excessive weight makes it hard for the truck to stop. Under these conditions, sudden braking may lead to a shift on the load, causing the vehicle to tip over or jackknife. These types of accidents may result in multiple injuries to the surrounding motorists and passenger vehicles.
Most of the improperly secured cargo truck accidents result in overturning. When a truck is carrying unsecured cargo, and the driver attempts to make a normal turn, the loose cargo shifts to one side. This leads to uneven distribution of the load, causing the vehicle to overturn.
When you don’t secure a large load on a flatbed truck, it may fly out onto the road in case of a crash. Worn-down tethers can also easily break and cause cargo to spill.
If the truck has hazardous material, it can cause more harm, such as fires or explosions. Consequently, drivers of such trucks must possess specific skill sets to move dangerous material.
An unsecured load on a truck can easily break free while on transit. It may result in a catastrophic accident because trucks have a high center of gravity. If you or a loved one gets injured in such a crash, you need a truck accident lawyer to help you get the right compensation. Additionally, some cases such as jackknife or rollover crash may be difficult to argue and require thorough investigations. Luckily, an experienced attorney will examine all the vital inspection records to develop a strong case.