Accidents involving commercial trucks occur more frequently every year, increasing over 50% throughout the past decade. Because these trucks are so large and heavy, mistakes that might be easily corrected when driving a passenger vehicle can quickly become extremely dangerous to other motorists, causing property damage, serious injuries, and fatalities. One of the most common causes of accidents involving commercial trucks is the failure to properly secure cargo. Statistics show that cargo and other items unintentionally falling off of commercial trucks during travel causes over 25,000 car accidents annually, resulting in up to 90 fatalities.
Learn more about unsecured truck cargo accidents below, then contact Kreeger Law to pursue compensation if you have been injured as the result of improperly secured truck cargo.
Federal Guidelines for Securing Cargo
Because a standard commercial truck can weigh up to 40 tons when loaded with cargo, it is necessary to correctly load this cargo. It must be properly secured during travel to prevent catastrophic accidents. The company that loads the cargo onto the truck and the truck driver transporting this cargo share responsibility for ensuring the load is secure. To encourage safe practices and prevent deadly accidents, cargo transported by commercial trucks must follow strict guidelines established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The FMCSA guidelines stipulate how specific kinds of cargo must be secured during loading and maintained while in transit. They detail rules for how certain securement devices are manufactured, how they should be utilized to secure cargo, and how they should be tested before use. Such devices include tie-downs, wire ropes, chains, cordage, steel strapping, webbing, shoring bars, and dunnage bags, which are inflatable bags positioned between cargo to keep it in place. Individuals loading the truck must consider the truck’s size and weight to determine an effective amount of tie-downs to secure the load in the trailer. Cargo should withstand turning, backing up, acceleration, and braking without rolling or shifting during transportation.
According to these federal guidelines, failure to secure cargo includes:
- Failing to use sufficient securement devices for the size and weight of the cargo
- Using securement devices in ways they were not designed to be used
- Employing broken, damaged, or worn-out securement devices
- Improper loading or balancing of cargo, making these devices less effective
- Overloading a truck with cargo so that it exceeds the weight limit
Commercial truck drivers must inspect cargo before beginning transportation, as well as checking the cargo during transit to monitor any potential risks of moving cargo and confirm it is properly secured. Safety officers at checkpoints and weigh stations throughout the country enforce FMCSA guidelines and can fine drivers up to $5,000 for unsecured cargo loads. However, drivers operating under strict delivery guidelines frequently avoid these stops to prevent their cargo from being weighed or examined.
How Unsecured Truck Cargo Causes Accidents
Unsecured cargo on a commercial truck can cause accidents in a number of ways. When not properly tied down with the correct securement devices, this cargo can fall or be ejected onto the road, damaging any vehicles traveling behind the truck. Even if this cargo does not directly impact other vehicles, it can be dangerous. When cargo accumulates on the road after falling off of a truck, it becomes an obstacle to other motorists and can lead them to slam the brakes or swerve to avoid an impact. This often results in collisions between other vehicles, especially in areas of heavy traffic.
Improperly loaded cargo makes it more difficult for drivers to safely operate their trucks, especially in inclement weather conditions or while traveling at high rates of speed. When cargo is incorrectly loaded or overloaded, this significantly reduces the capability of securement devices. The excess weight of an overloaded truck means it will require greater stopping distance, increasing the risk of causing a rear-end collision. Sometimes a truck with unsecured cargo can tip over when the driver changes lanes or makes a sharp turn, making vehicles in adjacent lanes vulnerable to being crushed by the falling truck. Unsecured cargo also heightens the risk of dangerous equipment failures, such as total brake failure or tire blow-outs.
Injured Due to Unsecured Cargo? Contact Us for Expert Legal Representation
If you were involved in a commercial truck accident due to unsecured cargo, the truck accident lawyers from Kreeger Law can help you seek justice and restitution. Commercial truck drivers must follow federal guidelines to ensure the safety of other motorists. They are liable for damages caused when they neglect to follow these guidelines. Our team will investigate your accident, gather evidence, prepare your claim, and argue your case in civil court to bring you the compensation you deserve.
Schedule a free consultation today by calling (916) 782-8400 or visiting our website.