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Overloaded trucks are a serious road safety hazard

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2023 | Truck accidents

Trucking companies in Texas and around the country operate in a very competitive market. In order to meet tight schedules and protect thin margins, commercial vehicles are sometimes loaded with more cargo than they can carry safely. This may reduce the number of trips that truck drivers have to make, but it puts all other road users in danger. When a truck is overloaded, its brakes and suspension systems are compromised, it will respond unpredictably in emergency situations, and its tires could fail without warning.

Suspension, brakes and tires

Semi-tractor trailer suspension and braking systems are extremely capable, but they are not engineered to cope with stresses outside their design parameters. When trucks are overloaded, their brakes heat up and wear more quickly, and their suspensions cannot cope as well with uneven road surfaces and potholes. Too much weight also causes premature tire wear, which can lead to blowouts.

Unpredictable handling

When a truck’s brakes, tires and suspension are compromised, it may not respond to driver inputs in a predictable way. This can be extremely dangerous in an emergency situation when precise maneuvering is crucial. Overloaded trucks are especially vulnerable to a dangerous phenomenon called trailer sway. This happens when high winds buffet trailers and cause them to swing from side to side. Experienced drivers can usually deal with the problem quite easily, but trailer swing can lead to catastrophic big rig accidents when commercial vehicles are overloaded.

A false economy

Overloading trailers to cut down trips and meet schedules is a false economy for trucking companies. Overloading compromises crucial safety components like brakes and tires, and it can make trucks very difficult to control in high winds and emergency situations. The result of overloading is sometimes an accident that causes death or serious injury, which will do more damage to a trucking company’s bottom line than one or two extra trips.