Truck safety in California driven by more than the operator

There is more to truck safety in California and across the country than just being a safe driver.

A rig could have the safest driver in the world but if the truck is improperly loaded, a tragedy can occur. An improperly loaded (or overloaded) truck can cause tires and brakes to wear faster or cause a loss of control that can result in rollover accidents.

Federal motor safety laws call for cargo to be "firmly immobilized or secured" and for the weight of the biggest trucks not to exceed 80,000 pounds on interstate highways.

But why does that matter? Here's why:

1. Jackknife accidents can result when the cargo loaded in the trailer moves and creates a weight imbalance. When that happens, braking can cause the trailer to wind up perpendicular to the driver's cab, which causes a jackknife.

2. Too much cargo can impact the brakes. Loading the truck over its capacity can hamper the ability of the brakes to stop the truck.

3. Driving an overweight truck can harm the tires. Too much weight increases the pressure on the tires, causing them to burst.

4. Cargo that moves or falls off while on the road can result in personal injury and/or property damage. It isn't unusual for commercial trucks to transport concrete pipes, timber or other vehicles. Imagining yourself following a truck that loses one of those items is frightening.

Trucks are necessary to transfer the goods we use in every facet of our lives. But they are dangerous. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report indicates that 4,317 people were killed in crashes across the country involving large trucks in 2016. An additional 145,000 were injured.

If you have been hurt in a large-truck crash, or if a family member has been killed, an attorney who handles cases involving trucks can offer guidance as to the proper way to proceed.

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