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Could that big rig drifting between lanes be overloaded?

The last thing you want to see in wet weather on a crowded freeway is a seemingly out-of-control 18-wheeler. The vision of an overturned big rig flashes before your eyes. You wish you could create more space between you and the weaving truck just ahead, but traffic has you boxed in.

Is the driver half asleep? Is he drunk? Perhaps he is talking on his cell phone. Then again, the problem may be that his truck is simply overloaded.

A leading cause of accidents

Big trucks are many thousands of pounds heavier than passenger cars, and if you are involved in an accident with one, you will be on the losing end of a horrific crash. Overloading is one of the highest causes of truck accidents. Loading an 18-wheeler improperly can create an imbalance that may cause a rollover. Furthermore, if the payload is not secured well, items can fall off while the truck is moving.

Observing best practices

Overloading creates wear and tear on component parts, such as suspension and tires. This, in turn, affects operation and driving performance. If a truck’s equipment breaks down or fails altogether, the result can well be a serious traffic accident. Trucking companies should ensure that new drivers receive proper instruction in sound loading practices; they must understand that not only is overloading costly in terms of maintenance, but the trucking company can also be liable if an accident results in personal injuries.

A road hazard

An overloaded truck is a hazard, especially when the weather is bad, vision is poor and roads are slippery. Braking distances increase, which drivers may misjudge. If the route takes a truck down an incline, the braking distance will become even more of a challenge. Overloading can cause cargo to shift, resulting in improper weight distribution, which, in turn, adds to the braking problem. Most important, overloading can reduce a driver’s emergency handling capabilities and lead to crashes and serious injuries. You may never know why that big rig in front of you is drifting between lanes, but overloaded cargo is certainly one possibility.

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