An oversized load presents unique dangers and can cause serious trucking accidents. Although trucks are designed to carry very heavy loads, overloading them causes tire problems and issues with controlling the vehicle.
Oversized loads are also not permitted in many areas because the infrastructure cannot handle them. That is, highways, bridges, and other roads are simply not built to handle loads of that size. Areas that are under construction also cause further support issues.
Causes of Oversized Truck Accidents
Large trucks are already difficult to control, so oversized loads are often only allowed where the driver has specialized training and a team to help. Below are some common problems that oversized loads have to deal with.
- Longer stopping distance. It is harder to stop a vehicle that is traveling at high speeds. It is even more difficult when that vehicle is carrying a large amount of weight. Stopping distance increases roughly 25% for each 20,000 pounds over 80,000 pounds.
- Clearance problems. Oversized loads are often oversized because of their height. Taller loads must travel on specific routes where they are clear from bridges and other overhead obstacles. An oversized load can actually become lodged under bridges or take down bridges because of its relative height.
- Generally higher chances of accidents and fatalities. As the load weight increases, so does the risk for fatalities. Loads of 80,000 pounds are 50% more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than loads that are below 65,000 pounds.
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Types of Accidents Associated with Oversized Loads
Several types of accidents that involve oversized loads are more common than others.
- Roll overs. If the weight of the cargo is not distributed evenly or if weight restrictions are ignored, roll overs can occur. Rollovers are also more likely to occur if the driver is being careless by speeding or driving recklessly. Traveling on curves, on ramps, off ramps, and intersections where the driver must turn at a sharp angle can also cause rollovers.
- Jackknife. Oversized loads are also more prone to jackknifing than other vehicles. In particular, this is much more likely to occur if the truck has to come to a sudden stop. Driver inattention or distraction is one of the most common reasons that a truck would need to stop suddenly enough to jackknife.
- Blowing tires. If the truck is illegally overloaded, then it is much more likely that the tires will not be able to support the heavy weight of the truck. Blowing a tire means that that the truck will likely lose control and cause an accident that could involve other vehicles.
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Florida Oversized Load Regulations
There are regulations at both the state and local level for oversized loads. In Florida, trucks over 80,000 pounds are considered oversized. The truck must also be under 13 feet and 6 inches tall and be less than 8 feet, 6 inches wide.
Drivers must obtain a special permit for any truck that is considered oversized. Permits are allowed for trucks up to 12 feet in width and 15 feet in height. Oversized loads are not allowed to travel in the evening hours. They can only drive half an hour prior to sunrise and half an hour prior to sunset. Only certain vehicles are allowed to travel on the weekends.
Some oversized loads are required to have escort vehicles or pilot cars. If the truck is over 12 feet wide, one pilot car is required. If it is over 14 feet wide, then two pilot cars are necessary. Similar requirements apply to height restrictions. Check with the Florida DOT for more information.
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Legal Liability in Oversized Load Accidents
If a truck driver or trucking company does not comply with both state and federal load regulations, then they could be liable in the event of an accident. These regulations are in place to help prevent accidents. A violation of any of these regulations could be grounds to argue that the driver was acting carelessly or recklessly, a requirement to prove liability in any trucking accident case.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an oversized load truck, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced truck Accident attorney Florida at Fetterman & Associates, PA for more information. Call 561-845-2510 or use our live chat feature to schedule a free case evaluation.
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