Did you know that 18-wheelers can weigh 25 times as much as a passenger car? It’s true – and that weight difference can cause a lot of injury, or even death, in the event of an accident. The federal government has placed restrictions on the maximum weight limits of tractor-trailers in an effort to reduce the number of disastrous crashes involving big-rigs, yet nearly a third of all trucks are overloaded in spite of the regulations imposed on them and the risks they are taking.
Putting the Public in Danger
When a truck driver or a trucking company overloads a truck, several risks come into play:
- Misplaced Center of Gravity. An overloaded tractor-trailer experiences an upward shift in its center of gravity, which makes it more likely to roll over and generally harder to control. If a truck has a rollover accident, multiple lanes can be blocked and the injuries can be numerous.
- Faster Wearing of Tires. Too much weight causes tires to wear down faster, and tires can blow out under the increased pressure. Aside from the fact that a blown-out tire can cause an accident, the debris from the tire can cause a crash when drivers swerve to avoid getting hit by a tire piece or a steel belt.
- Roadway Damage. Overweight trucks can wear down a road faster than usual, creating potholes and other surface issues that can pose a danger to other drivers – especially motorcyclists.
Taking the Risk
In spite of these risks, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 1 in 3 tractor-trailers are overloaded, which increases the likelihood of big-rig crashes due to increased stop times and less stable centers of gravity.
Unfortunately, the penalties for overloaded trucks are so low that most companies will willingly take the risk. The numbers are based on a rate that was established in 1953 – hardly sufficient fines for today’s trucking companies who put lives at risk on the highway for the sake of profit and efficiency. Until the penalties are set where they should be, these dangers will likely be a reality for passengers all over the country – and Hare Wynn is ready to hold trucking companies responsible for any injuries their negligence causes.
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, contact us today for a free consultation.