An investigative report from WSOCTV 9 found that overweight trucks that avoid freeway weigh stations are causing more serious accidents. The report recounted an accident from two years ago that claimed the life of 27-year-old Ashley Watson on Highway 321 in Gaston County, South Carolina. Watson ran into the back of a truck pulling a tractor, then an 18-wheeler truck plowed into both vehicles. The drivers of those trucks were arrested. The trooper who made the arrest said that at least one of the trucks was carrying 8,000 pounds more than legally allowed, which contributed to the severity of the accident.
More Weight, More Damage
According to a state official cited in the article, the more weight a truck has, the more damage it will cause in a collision. Additionally, an overweight truck has less maneuverability and may experience loss of steering control. The excess weight can damage various components of the truck and cause critical malfunctions such as tire blowouts and brake failure. If an overweight truck needs to make a sudden stop, the extra weight may cause it to jack-knife, or possibly even roll over. Overweight trucks take longer to brake to a complete stop and, therefore, are more prone to collisions. An overloaded truck is also likely to have cargo that is not sufficiently secured, which can lead to things falling off the truck and causing collisions.
The Federal Highway Administration sets the maximum gross vehicle weight on interstates at 80,000 pounds, with certain exceptions permitted for intrastate trucks. According to the Truck Safety Coalition, the chances of a large truck accident resulting in deaths and serious injuries increase with each extra ton of weight over 80,000 pounds. A 100,000-pound truck takes 25 percent longer to stop than an 80,000-pound truck. Additionally, even a truck weighing in at the legal 80,000-pound limit is 50 to 100 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a truck weighing about 50,000 to 65,000 pounds.
Large Truck Accidents
The Truck Safety Coalition collected data showing that crashes involving large trucks represented about 12-13 percent of all traffic fatalities, despite the fact that large trucks make up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles. The fatality rate for tractor-trailer crashes is double that of the rate of fatalities for passenger cars, and passenger vehicle occupants die in record-breaking numbers in collisions with large trucks because of the weight difference. Sadly, 97 percent of the deaths in two-vehicle crashes involving passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers were the passengers in the smaller vehicle.
Legal Help for Trucking Accidents in Charleston
When an overweight truck causes an accident that results in injury, there are many individuals involved in loading, unloading, and maintaining a truck that may be held liable. This can include the truck owner and driver, the freight owner, the loading or shipping companies, and the manufacturers of the brakes or tires. If you have been involved in an accident with an overloaded truck, contact an experienced Charleston personal injury lawyer today. The attorneys at Pierce, Herns, Sloan & Wilson, LLC will help you understand the complexities of commercial vehicle liability and get compensation for your injuries.