Tractor-Trailer Load Dangers
Countless families take to the road for holiday travels. Families making these long trips simply want a safe and smooth journey that ends with a chance to enjoy a vacation, visit family or catch up with old friends at the end of the journey. But the highways can be a dangerous place for families undertaking holiday travels with many avoidable highway injuries and deaths occurring as a result of tractor-trailer load issues. Specifically, overweight trucks and load securement problems have made for dangerous driving conditions on highways nationwide. In fact, a total of 3,163 people died in large truck crashes in 2009. Of those deaths, 14 percent were truck occupants, 70 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 14 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. There are federal regulations designed to combat these dangers, but state and federal enforcement resources are limited and only a small fraction of violators are caught. So what are some of these federal regulations and what problems are contributing to these dangerous conditions?
Reasons For Accidents and Legal Requirements Designed to Combat Those Issues
On September 27, 2002, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published new cargo securement rules. The goal of the new requirements is to reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting on or within, or falling from, commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce.
There are serious braking problems associated with overweight loads. In fact, the length of time to stop an eighteen wheeler is 40% greater than that of an automobile. That statistic doesn’t even take into account the additional braking problems when there is an overweight load. Unsurprisingly, an overweight load makes it substantially more difficult to brake. Provided below are a few of the regulations designed to combat those problems by reducing braking and cargo securement problems occurring as a result of overweight loads. The regulations can be examined in much greater detail by clicking on this link.
1. (a)Applicability. The rules in this subpart are applicable to trucks, truck tractors, semitrailers, full trailers and pole trailers.
2. (b)Prevention against loss of load. Each commercial motor vehicle must, when transporting cargo on public roads, be loaded and equipped, and the cargo secured, in accordance with this subpart to prevent the cargo from leaking, spilling, blowing or falling from the motor vehicle.
3. (c)Prevention against shifting of load. 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 vehicles stability or maneuverability is adversely affected.
Minimum Working Load Limit for Cargo Securement Devices and Systems
The aggregate working load limit of any securement system used to secure an article or group of articles against movement must be at least one-half the weight of the article or group of articles. The aggregate working load limit is the sum of: One-half the working load limit of each tiedown that goes from an anchor point on the vehicle to an attachment point on an article of cargo; and the working load limit for each tiedown that goes from an anchor point on the vehicle, through, over or around the cargo and then attaches to another anchor point on the vehicle.
Minimum Number of Tiedowns
The cargo securement system used to restrain articles against movement must meet requirements concerning the minimum number of tiedowns. This requirement is in addition to complying with rules concerning the minimum working load limit. When an article of cargo is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction, the number of tiedowns needed depends on the length and weight of the articles. There must be – one tiedown for articles 5 ft or less in length, and 1,100 lbs or less in weight; two tiedowns if the article is –
1. 5 ft or less in length and more than 1,100 lbs in weight; or
2. greater than 5 ft but less than 10 ft, regardless of weight.
It is clear that 18-wheelers can pose very serious dangers to other drivers on the roads. With that said, these 18-wheelers also serve the important function of transporting indispensable materials and goods that companies and people utilize nationwide. However, there needs to be a more concerted effort to ensure that safety precautions are taken and regulations followed. There are regulations currently in place, as described in detail above, and it is crucial that more resources are devoted to enforcing these regulations. Other drivers also need to be vigilant and drive cautiously around 18-wheelers. With greater caution and a renewed effort to enforce safety measures our nation’s highways can become safer.