There are numerous state and federal regulations designed to prevent the overloading of commercial trucks, but the practice still occurs.
West Virginia has its share of logging and coal trucks. However, it is the big rig carrying overloaded cargo that may present the greatest safety concern to motorists.
Overweight and unbalanced
When cargo is overloaded, it puts a strain on the integrity of the truck, making the vehicle difficult to handle. Heavy, off-balance payloads can shift, causing the driver to lose control. It is important for trucking companies to provide new hires with sufficient training in loading techniques to prevent a disaster, such as a rollover. A novice driver, especially, will be unaccustomed to handling an 18-wheeler with unbalanced weight distribution. The driver may take a curve too quickly and lose control when the cargo shifts. Another potential problem may develop because when hauling an unusually heavy load, the driver might not allow for the increased braking distances required.
A serious threat
In 2016, 27 fatalities on West Virginia highways resulted from crashes involving large trucks, and 86 fatalities from rollover accidents were reported, according to data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Overloaded trucks are a major cause of highway crashes that cause injuries and take lives.
Potential for trouble
In a commercial truck-passenger car crash, the truck usually wins, simply because of its sheer size and weight. The resulting legal case can be complex. A personal injury attorney will tell you that if a big rig involved in a rollover or a collision of some type is found to have been overloaded, more than one party could be held liable for the injuries suffered by victims. Those responsible might include the truck driver, the trucking company and even a third party in charge of loading the unbalanced cargo. In the end, a comprehensive investigation can turn up the required evidence, fault can be correctly assigned, and the victims will receive full and fair compensation for their injuries.