Commercial tractor-trailers are the largest motor vehicles on our roads
and highways. They are also the most dangerous. Because these massive
machines are slower, heavier, and more difficult to maneuver than passenger
vehicles, they pose a lot of risks to the general public – especially
when trucking companies and truck drivers fail to uphold their obligations
to abide by safety standards designed to avoid preventable
truck accidents and keep people safe.
While there are many risks posed by commercial trucks, issues involving
cargo are among the most serious. These risks include:
Overloaded Trucks - When a truck is overloaded, it can make the vehicle far more sluggish,
difficult to drive, and slower to respond to emergency situations and
avert collisions. Heavy trucks that exceed weight limits have increased
risks of excessive tire wear that can lead to blowouts, rollovers, and
jack-knifing. They can also be dangerous to infrastructure, especially
older roads and aging bridges. Depending on the type of truck –
such as a truck that does not fully enclose all cargo – overloading
also poses the risk of falling cargo that can strike vehicles or create
dangers in the roadway.
Improperly Loaded Trucks – Cargo that is improperly loaded creates many risks to others who
share the roads with trucks. These risks may include unsecured or improperly
secured cargo that shifts or falls off a tractor-trailer and creates hazards
on roads, as well as improper weight distribution that can cause trucks
to tip over or jack-knife when drivers are unable to gain control of their
rig. Trucks that improperly load hazardous material also pose risks not
only for wrecks, but for exposing nearby motorists, pedestrians, and even
communities to toxic substances.
Because overloaded and improperly loaded trucks create substantial risks
for causing wrecks, serious injuries, and even fatal accidents, there
are many state and federal laws in place governing truck cargo. Many of
these laws are established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(FMCSA), a division of the Department of Transportation that focuses exclusively
on regulating commercial trucks, companies, and drivers that engage in
Some important FMCSA cargo regulations include:
Cargo Securement – Commercial carriers must abide by a number of cargo securement
regulations, including the use of proper and non-damaged restraint and
securement systems (tie-downs, steel straps, chains, synthetic webbing
materials, wire ropes, and cords) that meet FMCSA standards. In additional
to properly restraining cargo using a certain number of approved devices
and materials, cargo placement is regulated in order to prevent shifting
during travel. Cargo securement rules are also tailored to certain types
of cargo and commodities, including logs, vehicles, and heavy machinery,
among other types of cargo.
Weight Limits – The FMCSA enforces strict weight limits for commercial carriers
depending on the type of truck and the type of cargo. In most cases, trucks
cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. In recent years, the trucking industry has
lobbied hard to increase this weight limit, sometimes in excess of 90,000 pounds.
Hazardous Materials – Because trucks often transport hazardous materials through our
communities, there are many laws in place to ensure these loads are stored,
secured, and transited safely. Companies and drivers must be specially
trained to deal with hazardous materials, and must comply with HazMat
regulations. For some types of hazardous cargo, drivers are only allowed
to use certain routes during transit so as to minimize the risk of exposing
communities to toxins in the event of a wreck.
As we have seen over the years, regulations don’t work when trucking
companies and drivers fail to abide by them – either as a result
of negligence or because they want to carry more cargo and make more money.
By putting profits over people, they commit egregious acts of negligence
for which they can be held fully accountable, especially when it leads
to wrecks, injuries, or deaths.
At Montee Law Firm, our Kansas City truck accident lawyers have recovered
over $250 million in compensation for accident victims, including those
injured in wrecks involving commercial vehicles. Our team is familiar
with the regulations and laws truckers must abide by, and we closely explore
whether any violations were involved in the cases we handle. If they were,
trucking companies can be held liable for the damages victims suffer,
including their medical expenses, their pain and suffering, and more.
If you have been hurt in a tractor-trailer accident anywhere in Missouri,
our firm can provide you with a free assessment of your case so you can
better understand your right to compensation. If you have a valid claim,
there are no fees to hiring our team, and no fees at all unless we win
Contact Montee Law Firm today for a FREE consultation.