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Overloaded trucks: Understanding and avoiding risk

As a driver of a commercial vehicle, you know you have to make every trip count -- but overloading a truck can have tremendously negative consequences.

Not only can overloading cause a truck to experience more wear and tear, it can also lead to devastating accidents out on the road.

Why are overloaded commercial trucks so dangerous to both the driver and others? There are several reasons.

Breakdowns

The additional stress on a vehicle from an overload is often enough to create maintenance issues -- which can manifest in unexpected breakdowns. When those occur on the road, it's easy for a chain-reaction accident to start. The truck driver can also be injured that way.

Braking issues

A truck driver hauling too big of a load may not be able to accurately gauge how long it will take the truck to stop. If a driver knows how long it should take a normal-sized load to stop, he or she could easily underestimate the need for the brakes and end up crashing into another vehicle.

Steering issues

Overloading often leads to unbalanced loads that can suddenly shift. That can throw a truck off balance very quickly. Even if the truck doesn't outright topple, it can make it very difficult for a driver to steer properly -- which can also lead to accidents on the road.

What can you do to avoid issues with an overloaded truck?

First, know the appropriate weight limit for any vehicle. Make sure that you never exceed it. However, that's not the only important rule. Insist that whatever company is loading the truck use a weighbridge, scales or weigh pads to check the load's weight before you pull away with your vehicle.

If a loading company isn't equipped to do this -- or is simply unwilling to take the precaution -- that's a sign that you should be concerned. Find another loading company. The risk to your life from a truck accident -- and to others -- isn't worth it.

Source: Sentry, "Truck loading safety tips," accessed June 08, 2018

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