Tractor-trailers are integral to interstate commerce in the United States. Thousands of these trucks transport goods between states every single day. At several times the weight of an average motor vehicle, these trucks may cause devastating accidents if their drivers are not careful.
Truck drivers are subject to stringent requirements imposed by both state and federal law. These include regulations on the amount of time a trucker may drive before stopping, on keeping detailed logs of the places the trucker travels, and of the weight of the load that truckers transport.
As you have traveled on interstate highways, you have probably noticed weigh stations with several tractor-trailers waiting in line to enter a small structure. Tractor-trailers are required to stop at these weigh stations and drive onto truck scales so that the weight of the truck can be measured. If the truck’s load seems to be overweight, the truck driver may be asked to pull over so the truck can be inspected.
The dangers of a heavy load
Even if a tractor-trailer is empty, it weighs several tons. Add cargo to the truck, and it may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The more weight a truck carries, the longer it will take to stop. At 65 miles an hour, a tractor-trailer may require over 500 feet to stop, whereas cars only take about 300 feet. With excessive weight, the time it takes to come to a stop is significantly increased. The odds of being involved in an accident also increase, since the driver may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting a car.
A heavy load also impacts a driver’s ability to handle the truck properly. A simple lane change may become deadly if the truck begins to rock back and forth.
In hilly areas, tractor-trailers may find themselves flying down hills if they are carrying a heavy load. Excessive weight makes braking more difficult on a flat road; it becomes even more difficult when traveling downhill.
Tractor-trailers that carry heavy loads also put unnecessary strain on their brakes. Over time, the brakes will become weaker and weaker, again making accidents more likely.
Finally, tractor-trailers that carry excessive weight cause damage to public roadways. One statistic estimates that the damage from one tractor-trailer is equivalent to roughly 9,600 motor vehicles. Over time, tractor-trailers cause pavement fatigue, which will eventually lead to cracking and failure.
Trucking accidents caused by heavy loads
In any trucking accident, the weight of the tractor-trailer should be inspected to see if it was in violation of state and federal law. If so, the driver may be liable for damages that result.
Contact our trucking accident attorneys today to set up a free consultation
The personal injury attorneys at Stein & Shulman are experienced in truck accident claims. We know how to determine if a truck was carrying an excessive load when it caused an accident. To schedule your free consultation, call 312-422-0506 today.