Overloaded Tractor-Trailer Trucks Pose Serious Risk of Injury to Arizona Motorists
The US is home to some of the busiest trucking routes in the world. Several tons of goods are transported all over the country from Southern California, Mexico, and Canada. However, due to the reluctance of certain trucking companies to adhere to regulations, some of these trucks might be overloaded, increasing the risk of accidents.
An overloaded tractor-trailer is a severe threat on the road. The increased weight reduces the driver’s ability to handle the truck and weakens its structural integrity. Unsurprisingly, statistics indicate that roughly 2,500 tractor-trailer trucks in Arizona are involved in road accidents annually. Overloaded trucks pose a serious risk to motorists. For example, when a tractor-trailer truck is overloaded, it has more momentum. This increases the braking difficulty, which in turn increases the chances of the truck losing control. Overloading can also cause other problems, such as inability to steer and brake failure.
Given the speed and weight of commercial trucks on Arizona highways, it is easy to see how an overloaded truck can cause other motorists devastating injuries and even death.
Federal Regulations for Tractor Trailer Trucks
In addition to Arizona’s laws, there are federal rules for cargo securement on a truck. These rules are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) governs and regulates the loading of cargo onto trucks. Failure to meet the regulations might result in fines and other severe consequences. Before any truck driver gets on the road, they must perform these steps laid out by the FMCSA:
- Cargo Distribution: The truck’s cargo must be evenly distributed throughout the trailer, so no area is too heavy.
- Secure Cargo: The cargo needs to stay in place during the drive because the moving cargo could cause the truck to fall over on a turn. Even if it doesn’t, the noise of the cargo hitting the sides of the truck would be a distraction to the driver.
- Cargo must meet weight limits: Each truck has a maximum weight that it’s built to haul safely. The load should not exceed this amount.
The FMCSA created the regulations stated above to protect all motorists on the road. Whenever a trailer truck driver breaches the rules, no motorist on the road is safe.
Dangers Overloaded Tractor Trailer Trucks Pose to Arizona Motorists
Tractor-trailers trucks are built differently. The suspension, transmission, and braking systems on a large truck are all designed to handle and generate far more force than their smaller counterparts. In most tractor-trailer truck accidents, the driver was overspending to meet a deadline. Unfortunately, many truckers and truck companies willfully ignore federal regulations in order to turn a profit.
The drivers and designers of tractor-trailer trucks are human, too. Mistakes can and do happen, sometimes, for example, brake failure. Outlined below are some of the consequences of overloading a tractor-trailer truck:
Runaway Trailer Accident
As a rule, these accidents occur when a truck’s braking system fails partially or entirely. The most common instance that can lead to a runaway trailer is that a truck without working brakes can build up extraordinary momentum after a long downhill incline. When that momentum overwhelms the stopping mechanism, the truck may begin accelerating out of control, taking cars and obstacles with it. These runaway trailers can crash into another vehicle by themselves or come to a stop in the middle of the roadway and present a hazard to other drivers.
At the same time, the trailer can come off its hitch and hurtle out of control, no longer following the truck’s cab.
Improperly secured Cargo Accident
According to Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 28-1098, truck drivers are responsible for properly securing their loads. Tractor-trailers transport a broad range of goods and products, which can be inherently dangerous and pose health risks when improperly loaded.
They must ensure the load does not drop, shift, leak, or otherwise leave the vehicle by any means.
Injuries Commonly Sustained in Arizona Tractor Trailer Truck Accidents
The health risks associated with trailer truck accidents are severe and life-threatening. In most cases, victims may require constant medical care for the rest of their lives. There is a high tendency of severe life-threatening injuries in most truck accidents due to a loss of truck control. In addition to the typical injuries caused by trailer truck accidents, the victims often suffer irreparable physical, mental, and emotional trauma. Medical professionals often report unique injuries and fatalities after a trailer truck accident, chilling to even speculate on the details.
Here are some of the injuries sustained by the victims of trailer truck accidents:
Severe Brain Injury/Trauma: When the construction debris or other items leave the flatbed, they may puncture a driver’s windshield and result in penetrating head trauma. These types of skull fractures often result in long-term disabilities or death.
Hemorrhage: Tractor-trailer accidents might lead to severe internal bleeding. This occurs when the organs are bruised or injured in the body; they are often fatal.
Facial fractures: Due to the weight differential between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles, even low-speed collisions may result in facial trauma. For example, this may occur when the driver collides with the steering wheel or upon airbag deployment.
Organ Failure: Extreme, severe, organ crushing accidents have resulted from heavy, unsecured tractor-trailers.
Loss of limbs/Amputation: Body parts may be crushed beneath the wreckage of a tractor-trailer accident, or they may sustain so much damage that amputation becomes the only option.
Partial/Total Blindness: Windows and windshields naturally sit at eye level. What this means is that trailer truck a1ccidents may result in complete or partial blindness for the victims.
Severe Burns and Disfigurement: Large truck crashes may result in dangerous car fires based on the angle of impact. These fires often occur when the truck or cargo smashes into another vehicle’s gas tank or destroys a vehicle’s front-end. It is not unusual for occupants to become trapped in a burning vehicle until emergency services arrive, resulting in third-degree burns, infections, and scarring.
Nerve Damage: Some trailer truck accident victims may lose the ability to work and fend for themselves. In addition, the aftermath of a trailer truck accident is gory. In worst-case scenarios, the damages might accumulate into millions of dollars.
Who is Liable in a Tractor Trailer Truck Accident?
While the truck driver may be the only one at the scene of an accident, many people are responsible for ensuring a truck’s trailer is safe and secure. Any one of these people could be held responsible for a trailer-truck accident, including:
- Truck-Trailer drivers: Truckers are typically responsible for inspecting their shipments throughout their route to ensure each load is secured. There may be some exceptions, such as if the driver has been asked not to disrupt enclosed cargo. Still, the truck driver will likely be a large part of any trailer accident case.
- The trucking company: These companies hire drivers to operate their trucks, and they must ensure that their drivers are qualified, trained in safety regulations. They can be held responsible for most bad conduct on the part of truck drivers.
- Miscellaneous/Third parties: Other parties that helped load or maintain the truck may also be found liable in a trailer accident. This can include the company that hired the loader or the broker that originally arranged for the cargo to be shipped. Determining who the third parties are, requires an extensive investigation that can present its challenges.