Semi-tractor trailers in Indiana and around the country can carry up to 25 tons of cargo, and the passenger vehicle occupants they share the road with are placed in danger when their loads are not properly secured. Deadly accidents are often the result when truck loads are too heavy, imbalanced or not tied down in accordance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
Unbalanced and overweight loads
When their cargos are unbalanced, tractor-trailers can respond unpredictably even in normal traffic situations. Truck drivers call this phenomenon trailer swing, and it can cause commercial vehicles to jackknife in emergency situations. When this happens, a big rig accident is almost inevitable. Loads that are too heavy can be just as dangerous because they create stresses that truck suspensions and braking systems were not designed to cope with. Overweight loads can also cause truck tires to fail without warning.
Loads that are balanced and well within a commercial vehicle’s operating parameters can still be dangerous if they are not properly tied down. Shifting loads can make heavy commercial vehicles very difficult to control, and cargo that is not tied down securely can be fall off trailers and strike other vehicles. To prevent this from happening, the FMCSA introduced a cargo securement standard in 2002 that requires trucking companies to use more effective tiedown devices.
Impatience and haste
Trucking companies work on tight schedules and operate in an industry with slim margins, which means cargo is sometimes loaded in haste. When this happens, tractor-trailers can be difficult to control and may not respond normally to driver inputs in an emergency. It is difficult to identify an improperly loaded semi from behind the wheel of a car, so passenger vehicle drivers would be wise to give large trucks a wide berth and spend as little time as possible in close proximity to them.