How Overloaded Tractor Trailers Can Cause Truck Accidents

Joseph L. CantorNovember 12, 2018

In order for a tractor trailer to be safely operated, a long safety checklist needs to be met before each trip. Obvious safety procedures include checking tire pressure and the braking system, as well as ensuring the truck driver is not fatigued before hitting the road. However, might not cross your mind — and could unfortunately not get attention from truckers and trucking companies — is how a tractor trailer is actually loaded. When a commercial truck is overloaded, it can cause a number of serious problems and truck accidents while the vehicle is in transit.

An overloaded tractor-trailer could result in:

  • Trailer tipping over: The control and steering of a commercial truck is largely dependent on how the trailer behind the tractor is loaded. Carefully balancing the weight of cargo in the trailer allows the safe operation of the entire vehicle. On the other hand, overloading the trailer will not only cause the trucker to have trouble steering their truck, but it will also increase the chances of the whole trailer tipping over, such as during a tight turn. Misloaded trailers that become top-heavy can also tip during strong winds.
  • Loose cargo in the road: An overloaded tractor-trailer may cause the cargo to become loose in transit, or possibly knock open the trailer’s doors. This may result in random objects of freight spilling into the highway behind the commercial truck. Any other driver on the road may need to swerve to avoid a collision with debris.
  • Extended braking distance: Large commercial vehicles take a while to come to a complete stop. Truckers should be able to correctly estimate braking distances to prevent rear-end collisions with any vehicles in front of them. However, when a tractor-trailer is overloaded, the braking distance increases unpredictably due to the added weight. The end result is a heightened chance of crashing into other vehicles in front of the tractor-trailer, especially in emergency braking situations.

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