Atlanta Attorneys Discuss Overloaded Truck Accidents
Overloaded Trucking Collisions
Federal laws determine how much weight a tractor-trailer may haul on interstate highways, and state laws set the weight limits for state roads and bridges. Trucking companies, loaders, truckers, and highway weight patrols all play a role in ensuring that tractor-trailers stay at or below legal weight limits.
Weight limits serve several purposes. They help prevent excessive damage to road surfaces, and they keep truckers safe by ensuring that their loads are not too heavy to pass safely over bridges or overpasses. Weight limits also play an important role in preventing collisions. An overloaded truck may jackknife if its tires skid, or part of the load may shift, causing the big rig to roll or cargo to fall off, possibly injuring others on the road.
Causes of Accidents
Overloading a truck can cause any or all of the following problems:
- Increased stopping distance
- Increased chances of a rollover or jackknife accident
- Increased speed when going downhill
- Decreased speed when going uphill
- Shifting cargo that affects steering
- Brake failure or other mechanical problems
- Falling items from improperly-secured loads
- Tire blowouts
Any of these factors, alone or working together, may cause a crash or make one worse. Since they make it harder to drive the semi truck, these factors can also combine with a driver's inexperience, fatigue, or distraction to cause a collision.
An overloaded tractor-trailer poses a safety risk, and the company or driver that owns may face a heavy fine if caught. However, a truck carrying less cargo than it can handle means that the trucking company has to put more 18 wheelers on the road, which costs additional money. As a result, most trucking companies strive to load tractor-trailers as close as possible to the legal weight limits without going over. When a company is behind schedule or overbooked, it may decide to overload big rigs in order to get the work done on time - despite the risks.
Federal Truck Laws
Under federal law, tractor-trailers are limited to a total weight of 80,000 pounds. States risk losing federal highway funding if they change the weight limits on federal highways, but they are free to set the weight limits on state roads. As of 2011, Georgia allowed a maximum weight of 20,340 pounds per axle on two- and three-axle vehicles, a maximum of 70,000 pounds on four axles, and a maximum of 80,000 pounds on five axles. Heavier trucks generally require a special weight permit before they can be driven on state roads. Both Georgia and the federal highway system use the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Federal Bridge Formula for calculating how heavy trucks using bridges and overpasses may be.
Seek an Experienced Lawyer Today
Overloaded trucks pose a serious threat to the safety of their drivers and of everyone else sharing the road. When a Georgia tractor-trailer crash occurs due to weight violations, the experienced Atlanta truck accident attorneys at Grant Law Office can help by fighting for the compensation that injured drivers or passengers deserve. Contact us today at (404) 995-3955 to find out how we can help protect your rights.