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Does overloading cause truck accidents?

A few months ago, the famous actor and comedian, Tracy Morgan, was involved in a terrible truck accident that caused the death of one of his friends and left Morgan with serious injuries. Given that the truck driver who caused the accident was allegedly sleep-deprived at the time, the story has drawn considerable attention to the issue of truck driver fatigue. However, tractor-trailer accidents can result from a variety of other causes, including overloading.

According to a study by the International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences, overloading a truck creates various safety concerns. Most people understand that heavier vehicles can be more difficult to stop, and that the weight creates a greater impact force in an accident. This is why truck accidents often result in greater damage and more severe injuries relative to accidents between smaller motor vehicles.

But weight alone is not the only factor. Trucks are designed to carry far heavier loads than the average passenger vehicle. The real dangers arise when the truck operator loads the truck with a greater amount of weight than federal regulations allow, or than the truck was designed to carry.

When a truck is overloaded, it can become unstable, which increases the risk of rollover accidents and can make it difficult for the driver to keep the truck from veering into other lanes of traffic. Furthermore, the excess weight can make the truck difficult to maneuver and cause problems with the braking system.

Trucks are dangerous enough without the operator exceeding the truck's weight limits. Following a truck accident, victims may want to investigate whether overloading played a role in the accident. If so, the evidence may be used to show that the driver or the truck company was negligent.

Source: IATSS Research, "Improving truck safety: Potential of weigh-in-motion technology," Bernard Jacoba and Véronique Feypell-de La BeaumelleLiza Barth, Accessed on Oct. 23, 2014

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