Trucking Accidents Caused By Unsecured Loads
When most of us think about trucking accidents, we do not immediately consider the risks that come with unsecured loads. Yet if you imagine driving behind large trucks on the highways around Chicago, you likely have seen a number of semi-trucks carrying particularly heavy or wide loads. Sometimes, it might look as though these loads are improperly secured, particularly if you witness debris hitting the road or your windshield. According to a report from ABC News, poorly secured truck loads often result in serious crashes. To be sure, a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that poorly secured loads cause “more than 25,000 crashes each year in North America.”
Are there ways for automobile drivers to avoid a serious accident caused by a poorly secured truck load? Or do we need to focus on urging trucking companies to make changes to the way they load and secure their vehicles?
Federal Rules for Cargo Securement
As the report explains, there are federal rules for commercial trucks when it comes to securing loads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explains that the general rule for commercial carriers is this: “Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns, or a combination of these.” Commercial trucks must have a minimum number of tie-downs depending upon the length and weight of the load, and there are specific rules when it comes to transporting logs, metal coils, concrete piping, automobiles, containers, and other types of loads.
In short, these federal rules are designed with specific types of loads in mind, and they are designed to prevent trucks from transporting poorly secured loads on America’s highways. Yet even with rules in place, accidents still can happen. This is particularly true for anyone using a non-commercial truck for transportation, as ratchet straps typically are not sufficient to secure a heavy or bulky load.
Fallen Materials Become Road Hazards
When loads are not properly secured on trucks, cargo can become dislodged. As the AAA Foundation study explains, any cargo that falls onto the road “becomes a serious hazard for road users” and can result in a severe or even fatal trucking accident. Even smaller items or pieces of debris can become extremely dangerous when they are moving at high speeds. The study explains that this kind of accident-causing material is known as vehicle-related road debris (VRRD), and it is important to take steps to prevent VRRD from causing traffic collisions.
While VRRD crashes represent only a small number of the total trucking accidents that occur each year, these accidents are nonetheless preventable. Currently, VRRD crashes account for only 0.2 percent of all fatal accidents. However, when we put that number in perspective, VRRD turns out to be responsible for more than 25,000 accidents that result in the deaths of between 80 and 90 people.
Contact a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one got hurt in a trucking accident caused by road debris and poorly secured cargo, an experienced trucking accident lawyer in Chicago can help. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to learn more about filing a claim for compensation.