Shifting Weight, An Increased Hazard

Brad Pistotnik Law

Another significant problem in the trucking industry is the shifting of cargo during transportation. Trucks that are improperly loaded, or overloaded, can result in serious a serious accident. Truck drivers who fail to comply to loading regulations, or check that another independent contractor has complied to those regulations, are leaving passenger drivers at risk.

When the cargo isn’t properly loaded, specifically in flatbed trailers, it can be easily shifted and inevitably fall off the bed during transportation. This type of scenario can be highly hazardous to other motorists and has often times resulted in fatalities. Cargo that may spill, or fall off obstructs the roadways for passenger vehicles, causing them to veer out of the way. Even in the event where the cargo doesn’t fall off the vehicle, and simply shifts inside the vehicle, it stills poses a threat on motorists. Should the cargo be of significant weight, it can cause the tractor-trailer to veer across lanes, or worse, tip over.

Fortunately, part 393.100 of the FMCSR addresses these concerns of weight shifts during transportation. These rules, which are applicable to trucks and pulled trailers, are stringent and state that each commercial motor vehicle must be loaded and equipped in accordance to the subpart that follows.

All cargo must be contained, immobilized, or secured in accordance with this subpart to prevent shifting upon or within the vehicle to such an extent that the vehicle’s stability or maneuverability is adversely affected. Part 393.102 provides minimum performance criteria for cargo securement devices and systems. This particular section of the regulation addresses the breaking strength performance criteria. It also describes working-load limits. The regulation addresses performance criteria for devices to prevent vertical movement of loads that not contained within the structure of the vehicle.

These regulations address cargo securement, so that cargo cannot shift or tip to the extent that the vehicle’s stability or maneuverability is compromised. The FMCSR also has guided regulations under part 393.108 that identifies working and load limits. These regulations, which are depicted in a table format, can be difficult to comprehend thus, truck drivers are required to be trained and supervised on how to accurately read the chart prior to transportation.

When a tractor-trailer is loaded with excessive cargo, and is not secured properly, it poses a threat to others on roadways. The uneven balance it creates can cause the truck driver to lose control of the tractor -trailer. Whether it is the driver who failed to comply with the FMCSR regulations, or a third-party shipping or loading company, it is they who are held accountable for any accidents. Should you be in an accident involving such circumstances, call Brad Pistotnik Law!

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