How Can Cargo Cause A Truck Accident?
The single, biggest difference between a person driving car, van, or SUV and a person driving a professional, freight hauling truck is cargo. Even if you’re coming from an electronics store with your new TV in the vehicle, that’s nothing compared to the literal tonnage of wheat, vehicles, furniture, liquid fuel or even livestock that a professional truck may be hauling to another destination.
And sometimes, it is the cargo that a truck is carrying that can cause an accident on the road. But how and why?
Different types of cargo will have different effects on the weight, balance and physical behavior of a truck. A tanker truck that is only half-full with fuel, for example, is actually going to behave differently in terms of motion and inertia compared to a full load. A truck that is carrying logs needs to be secured in a very different way from a truck is carrying a full load of horses or cattle.
All of this means that hauling the freight, especially in this weight and volume, can carry special challenges and considerations that aren’t always addressed. For example, steel pipes being carried are usually exposed and visible on “flat beds” and are literally strapped in by restraints. Sometimes the trucker, in a hurry, doesn’t do a good job of ensuring that every restraint is secure. In other cases, all the turns, the changes in weather with wind and rain, or even just a few hours driving on a bumpy road, may be enough to loosen those restraints and cause the pipes to spill off the truck and onto the road.
In the case of liquids, the movement of the liquid itself can sometimes cause trucks to behave erratically. If a truck brakes suddenly, for example, the driver may be safely seat-belted in to avoid surging forward, but the liquid cargo isn’t. So even though it is in a tank, a sudden braking maneuver can still cause that liquid to “crash” forward and the resulting force may cause the truck’s braking to be ineffective.
And finally, the distribution of the cargo itself may have an effect on how a truck moves. If it disrupts the balance or center of weight of a truck, then a truck turning may find that the cargo itself is now causing a tilt, jack-knife or other unexpected motion for the truck that pulls it in an unexpected direction.
Unfortunately, for other vehicles on the road, any cargo that causes an accident on a truck is going to put the rest of the road into turmoil. It will be very difficult in such conditions to provide the rapid response and agility required to safely navigate a road that is suddenly full of spilled cargo.
If this should happen to you, you should always start thinking about whether you have any legal rights to exercise. After all, secure cargo is both the professional and legal obligation of a licensed truck driver. An experienced car crash lawyer can help you to decide how to proceed.