When it comes to a vehicle collision on the roads of Philadelphia, one of the worst kinds that you can be involved in is one that involves a tractor trailer. These truck accidents have far more force than a crash that only involves passenger vehicles, drastically increasing the amount of damage that results. To make matters even worse, trucks are further from the ground than most other cars on the road, so the weight that they bring into the collision – ten times that of a normal car, even when the truck does not have any cargo – hits other cars higher from the ground, where they have less in the way of protection and where damage often leads to terrible head or neck injuries that often prove to be fatal.
Unfortunately, trucking companies focus more on turning a profit than on keeping others on the road safe. One way they do this is by overloading their trucks. Even though this makes driving the truck far more dangerous, it allows the truck to deliver more to its destination, which maximizes the trucking company's profits.
The Problem of Overloaded Trucks
It might not have even occurred to noncommercial drivers who only have to drive a small vehicle or even an SUV that how trucks are loaded can drastically impact how it drives on the road. People who only drive cars do not have to worry about how cargo is loaded in the back. However, truckers who drive tractor trailers, and especially those who drive flatbeds, have to worry about this constantly. If a problem occurs, it can lead to them losing control of their vehicle and causing a severe truck accident.
Even without another factor, though, overloaded trucks are dangerous because they are heavier than trucks that are loaded properly, so they take longer for the driver to bring to a complete stop. Truck drivers in overloaded vehicles need to hit the brakes quicker, and so need to notice and react to road hazards that are much further in the distance than other truckers. Many truck drivers are not up to this task, leaving them powerless to avoid a crash.
Overloaded Flatbed Trucks
The problem of overloaded trucks is especially apparent when the truck is an open-air flatbed truck. These trucks have a trailer that is open and apparent for all to see, so when it is overloaded everyone can see it.
One of the most prominent issues that overloaded flatbed trucks pose is when there is so much cargo on the bed of the truck that some of it can only barely be tied down. When this happens, some of the cargo can fly off backward and into traffic if the truck hits a pothole or takes a turn, or even when the driver reaches a high enough speed for the wind to grip something and pull it off. When material flies off the back of a flatbed truck, it puts everyone else at risk even if the cargo is not something that would hurt anyone – drivers do not know immediately when is coming off the back of the truck and often take evasive action to avoid it, and these evasive actions can cause a crash.
Overloaded Tractor Trailers
While the dangers of an overloaded flatbed truck are apparent, those of a tractor trailer are just as severe: They are just hidden inside the truck's trailer where drivers in Philadelphia cannot see them.
The insides of a tractor trailer need to be filled with cargo carefully or else it will be unbalanced and difficult to drive. If the trailer is poorly loaded or is overloaded, it can make it difficult for a truck driver to control or even impossible for them to make maneuvers that they would otherwise be able to make. This can lead to an accident if the truck does not perform in the way that the trucker wants or needs it to perform.
Even if the truck is balanced well, if there is too much cargo inside it, the chances for a cargo shift increase dramatically. When cargo moves around in the trailer of a truck, the weight redistributes without warning to the driver. If this happens at an inopportune time, it can cause a jackknife or a rollover crash when the driver loses control. Even if the driver manages to maintain control immediately after the cargo shift, the truck will likely handle poorly until the situation is fixed. These are not small issues, either. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), approximately 7% of truck accidents occur because of a cargo shift or an improperly secured load.
Gross Combined Weight Rating
Because of these dangers, the companies that actually manufacture the trucks that we see on the roads of Philadelphia calculate how much weight one of their vehicles can safely haul, based on the truck's equipment, engine, and transmission. This poundage, called the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), gets noted on the truck's plate. Federal regulations are supposed to prohibit a truck from traveling on the highway if its total weight surpasses the GCWR, and truckers are supposed to stop at any weigh stations to prove that they are beneath this amount, but these regulations are lightly enforced so many trucks on the roads in and around Philadelphia are likely over this limit.
Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
Truck accidents often leave those in any normally-sized vehicles that were involved in a serious state. This is even worse when the truck that was involved is overloaded. Not only does an overloaded truck increase the chances of causing a crash, it makes any damage and injuries that stem from that crash far more severe.
This is why the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent victims of truck crashes. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident in or near the city of Philadelphia, contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.