Although many accidents caused by collisions with road debris occur after a car hits a blown tire or a piece of trash left on the freeway, thousands of truck accidents are the result of a driver’s failure to follow specific cargo loading procedures. Failing to load cargo appropriately can lead to that cargo coming loose and falling onto the roadway and into the path of unsuspecting motorists. Depending on what type of cargo a truck is carrying, these negligent actions could have deadly consequences for other drivers on the road.
Road Debris Defined
In a recent report, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed the most common types of road debris as being:
- Blown tires;
- Construction equipment;
- Fallen branches;
- Lumber; and
- Vehicle parts.
In many cases, these types of debris have fallen off of a truck after a driver failed to employ safe loading procedures.
Recognizing the danger of failing to properly load heavy or dangerous cargo, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), instituted a series of regulations, with which truck drivers must comply. According to the regulations, all cargo must be firmly immobilized on or within a truck by certain materials, including shoring bars, tie downs, straps, ropes, and tarps. The number of restraints that a drive must use depends on the size and type of cargo. For instance, drivers must use at least one tie down for cargo that measures five feet or less in length and weighs less than 1,100 pounds. As the length and weight of the cargo item increases, however, so do the number of tie downs that must be used. Finally, cargo that is likely to roll must be secured with wedges and other tools that prevent shifting and spills.
In some cases, properly secured cargo can still come loose in the event of a rollover. For this reason, the FMCSA has also adopted special rules for securing certain dangerous cargo, such as:
- Automobiles and light trucks that weigh less than 10,000 pounds individually;
- Concrete pipes;
- Dressed lumber, packaged lumber, and building materials;
- Freight containers;
- Heavy vehicles, equipment, and machinery that weigh more than 10,000 pounds each;
- Large pieces of natural, irregularly shaped rock that weigh more than 5,000 pounds;
- Metal coils that weigh more than 5,000 pounds; and
- Paper rolls weighing more than 5,000 pounds.
Although driver negligence is often the cause of truck collisions, other parties can also be held responsible. For instance, truck manufacturers or trucking companies can be held liable for their negligence if they:
- Fail to provide appropriate training to the driver;
- Fail to enforce regulations;
- Do not exercise care during the hiring process;
- Manufacture defective vehicle parts; and
- Perform improper truck maintenance.
Manufacturers of dangerous cargo, such as hazardous chemicals can also be held accountable for injuries sustained by victims if they failed to warn the driver of the specific dangers associated with transporting the product.
Contact a Skilled Truck Accident Lawyer