Truck Accident Causes: Loads that Shift Weight

Maintaining control of a truck is difficult when the weight of a load is not evenly distributed within the trailer. This can especially be a problem when transporting livestock or tanks of liquid, as they have a tendency to move around when the truck turns. Trucks with uneven weight distribution have a greater risk of causing accidents because they present braking and maneuverability difficulties, making them more prone to tipping and rollover.

Why is Proper Weight Distribution Important?

The weight carried within a trailer must be distributed evenly across all of the trailer’s axles and with respect to the truck’s center of gravity. Using the see-saw principle, truck drivers must ensure that the weight located in both ends and both sides of the trailer is equal so that the trailer stays balanced. This also prevents damage to the axles and tires. The maximum amount of weight an axle can hold depends on its location on the trailer, but Federal laws limit the maximum weight to 20,000 pounds for a single axle, 34,000 pounds for tandem axles, and 80,000 pounds for the entire weight of the vehicle.

Federal Cargo Securement Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published new cargo securement rules in September of 2002 for interstate commerce motor carriers. These rules require motor carriers to change the way they use cargo securement devices to prevent articles from unsafely shifting within trailers. Motor carriers may be required to increase the number of tie-downs used to secure certain types of cargo. Cargo securement systems must be able to withstand performance criterions concerning deceleration in the forward direction and acceleration in the lateral and rearward directions. The intent of the new requirements is to reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting on or within, or falling from, commercial motor vehicles.

Truck drivers must ensure that cargo is firmly immobilized or secured in the trailer by using tie downs, dunnage (loose materials used to protect and support cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle) of appropriate strength, shoring bars, or a combination of these securements.

Have you been involved in a truck accident in San Francisco? Contact Scarlett Law Group today at (415) 688-2176 for a free case evaluation.

  • 2015 Litigator Awards Ranked Top 1% Lawyers