Dangers of Overloaded Trucks

Posted on March 18, 2021

Large trucks come with a host of potential risks and hazards to other drivers on the road. One thing that makes large trucks so dangerous is that they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds – or even more with special permits. Large trucks must keep within federal and state legal load limits for safe travel. If a trucking company or cargo company overloads a truck, the repercussions can be disastrous.

Why Are Overloaded Trucks Dangerous?

Large trucks are dangerous even when they follow all the rules. According to national crash statistics, in 2018 alone, large trucks were involved in 112,000 injury accidents and 4,862 fatal accidents. The elements of a large truck, such as its stopping power, wide turns and large blind spots, increase the odds of accidents. The size, length and weight of a truck often lead to serious injuries in these collisions. When a truck is carrying too large a load and exceeds its weight limit, it can be even more dangerous. An overloaded truck can cause a car accident in several ways.

  • Too much weight straining the axles makes the truck more difficult to control.
  • Less control in bad weather, such as rain and wind.
  • A heavier truck means reduced stopping power.
  • An overloaded truck causes more damage to the tires.
  • Poor weight distribution in the trailer.
  • An imbalanced truck increases the odds of a rollover accident.
  • An overloaded trailer could swing outward, leading to a jackknife accident.
  • Poorly secured cargo can cause lost cargo loads.

An overloaded truck is much harder to manage than a properly loaded and balanced truck. Too much weight can increase the chances of a disaster in transit, such as the truck flipping over or the trailer swinging to the side. It can also make it more difficult for the truck driver to stop in time to avoid a rear-end collision. Large commercial trucks are already deadly enough. When a trucking company or another party breaks the rules and overloads a truck, this further increases the odds of a catastrophic truck accident.

Contact a Los Angeles truck accident attorney to determine if your accident was caused by an overloaded truck and who is responsible for this negligence.

Legal Load Limits for Trucks in California

All trucking companies must obey the rules of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when it comes to truck weights and load limits. The FMCSA is in charge of regulating the commercial trucking industry to enhance its safety. According to the FMCSA, single-axle vehicles are limited to 20,000 pounds, tandem-axles are limited to no more than 34,000 pounds and the gross weight of a vehicle with a load cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. The FMCSA also has many cargo securement rules to ensure the safe transportation of different types of cargo.

In addition to federal trucking regulations, the California Vehicle Code (CVC) gives weight limits to large trucks as well. These generally match federal regulations. CVC Weight Sections 35550-35558 limit the weight of combination vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, to 80,000 pounds maximum. It limits the weight of single-axle vehicles to 20,000 pounds and the weight on any one wheel supporting an axle to 10,500 pounds.

California’s legal load limits for trucks has a few exceptions. Firetrucks, for example, can have increased axle weights, as can log haulers, buses and motor homes. Local overweight permits may also be available to allow trucks to haul heavier loads in certain situations. If a nonexempt large truck surpasses California’s legal load limits, the trucking company could face penalties. If the overloaded truck causes an accident, the company will be liable for injuries and losses.

File a Claim for an Overloaded Truck Accident in LA

If an investigation finds that the truck in your auto accident was overloaded, you may have grounds to bring a claim against the truck company, cargo company or cargo loaders. An overloaded truck is a breach of the truck company’s duty to keep operations safe. If you suspect this type of breach of duty contributed to your truck accident in Los Angeles, contact an attorney for a free consultation about your right to file a claim to damages.

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