Federal law allows fully laden semi-tractor trailers to weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, but some trucking companies in Oklahoma and around the country exceed this limit in order to squeeze a little additional revenue out of each trip. When they do, they expose all other road users to unacceptable risks because overloaded trucks can be extremely dangerous. Tractor-trailers are incredibly robust and complex machines, but their components can fail without warning when they are exposed to stresses that they were not designed to handle.
Tire and brake wear
A tractor-trailer’s weight is spread over five axles and 18 wheels, which means there is a lot that can go wrong when the federal weight limit is exceeded. Truck tires wear out far more quickly and truck braking systems can become dangerously hot when trailers are overloaded, which can lead to catastrophic mechanical failures and blowouts that occur without warning. When this happens, an overloaded truck can be almost impossible to control even with an experienced driver behind the wheel.
Overloaded trucks often crash when they are rounding bends or navigating highway entrance or exit ramps. This is because a tractor-trailers suspension components are put under the most pressure when turns are made at high speeds. This added pressure is caused by centrifugal force, which can be powerful enough to make an overloaded truck tip over. When truck accidents are caused by this phenomenon, nearby passenger vehicles can be crushed.
Preventing overloading accidents
Overloaded trucks pose a threat to all road users, but they are a menace that could be eliminated if police officers were trained to spot the signs of overloading and ordered to pull commercial vehicles over when they appear to be carrying too much cargo. Determining whether or not a truck is overloaded would not be difficult because hundreds of weigh stations have already been built.