Can Improperly Loaded Cargo Cause a Truck Accident?

September 27, 2022
Can Improperly Loaded Cargo Cause a Truck Accident?

Federal and state regulations provide rules for how cargo is to be loaded and secured on commercial trucks. In addition, state and federal law also make truck drivers responsible for inspecting their cargo loads to be satisfied that the truck is safe to operate. When trucking companies, cargo/freight companies, and truck drivers fail to follow safety regulations governing cargo, they put everyone on the road at risk of being involved in a devastating truck accident

Rules for Loading Truck Cargo

Some of the most important rules and tips for trucking companies, cargo companies, and truck drivers to follow when loading cargo into a truck or trailer include:

  • Cargo must be properly distributed, with weight evenly distributed across the load floor and heavier items loaded towards the bottom. This helps keep the truck stable with an even distribution of weight and a lower center of gravity.
  • Cargo must be properly secured so that it does not shift during transport. Securing devices may include ropes, straps, chains, binders, braces, or friction mats.
  • All tailgates, doors, and any other equipment must be secured, so that cargo or equipment does not inadvertently fall out of the truck and onto the road.
  • Cargo should not obstruct the driver’s view.
  • Cargo should not restrict the movement of the driver’s head, arms, or legs.

In addition, federal regulations also include special loading rules for certain types of cargo, such as:

  • Timber and lumber
  • Metal coils
  • Paper rolls
  • Concrete pipes
  • Intermodal shipping containers
  • Automobiles
  • Flattened or crushed vehicles
  • Heavy equipment or machinery
  • Large rocks/boulders or gravel/sand

Drivers Are Obligated to Inspect Cargo Loads

Drivers are required by federal regulation to not only inspect their cargo load before setting off after picking up the load but also at the start of every duty shift and regularly throughout the day to ensure that the cargo remains secure. Truck drivers are required to replace any damaged or broken securing devices before getting back on the road, or to add additional securing devices if the driver believes that the cargo load is not properly secured. Driver inspections are normally required:

  • Before the start of a trip
  • Within the first 50 miles of a trip
  • At three-hour or 150-mile intervals, whichever comes first
  • Whenever the driver comes on or goes off duty

How Improperly Loaded Cargo Causes Truck Crashes in Philadelphia

Improperly loaded cargo can cause a truck accident in several different ways. First, improperly secured cargo poses a risk of falling off or out of the truck. Falling cargo may directly impact other vehicles around the truck on the road, while cargo that has fallen onto the road creates a collision hazard for other approaching vehicles. Smaller cargo that may not be noticeable to drivers can also pose a puncture hazard for other vehicles, potentially causing a tire blowout. 

Cargo that has not been balanced and secured can also cause a truck accident when the cargo shifts during travel. If heavy cargo is loaded to one side of the truck or trailer or is loaded up on top of the cargo load, it can make the truck harder for the driver to control and may lead to the truck jackknifing or rolling over, especially if the truck is driving on slippery roads, traveling uphill or downhill or around a steep bend, or if the truck driver needs to make an emergency maneuver.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Truck Accident Case in Pennsylvania

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a truck accident in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Baldwin Matzus represent clients injured because of truck accidents in Philadelphia, Butler, Cranberry Township, Pittsburgh, and throughout Pennsylvania. Call (412) 206-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 310 Grant St., Suite 3210, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.


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