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Improperly loaded freight puts motorists at risk

Most of the freight moving across California makes at least part of its journey by truck. How all that cargo is loaded could be putting occupants of other vehicles at risk. Improperly loaded freight is a major public hazard and often a contributing factor in big rig accidents.

When a trailer is unbalanced or overloaded, the cargo has an increased chance of shifting on curvy roads, lane shifts or hard braking events. When a load shifts during transit, it can cause the trailer to sway, rock, or flip. A fully loaded tractor-trailer weighs in at 80,000 lbs. and when one rolls over, everything in its path is in peril. Spillage from flipped trailers causes additional hazards to motorists traveling in the wake of a rollover. With flatbed trailers, improperly secured cargo can fall off without the driver ever knowing and cause major damage to following cars, particularly in darkness.

Drivers employed by fleets are not generally required to load their cargo, but they do have a duty to inspect it before departure unless it is already sealed. In that scenario, the shipper must certify a load's safety, but it can create situations where the driver is unaware of dangerously-loaded freight being transported. If a driver fails to inspect or has insufficient training to recognize improper loading techniques, it can lead to findings of liability against the trucking company if people are injured as a result.

Many truck accidents are the result of some form of negligence. Besides the issue described above, collisions can be caused by truck drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or distracted by a cellphone. People who have been injured in one might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse they may have.

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