According to statistics published by the National Highway Transportation Safety Board, in the United States over 400,000 highway accidents occur each year involving trucks which tip over. One person is injured or killed every 16 minutes in a trucking accident. These unfortunate statistics are frequently the result of improper loading at the terminal. If a truck is properly loaded, it should not turn over unless the driver greatly exceeds the speed limit.

The driver must do two things. He must never exceed the speed limit and he must inspect the cargo to ensure the shipper adhered to the applicable Federal Motor Freight Regulations governing loading and securement of the cargo.

Under the law, the driver is responsible for the safe loading of the cargo regardless of who actually loaded it unless when he arrives at the terminal the cargo is in a locked trailer (under seal) to which he has no access.

A proper inspection by the driver involved determining the weight of the load, actual placement of the load, and that the load is secured safely.

Sections 393.100 through 393.136 of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regulations established the standard of care to which the shipper (person who loads the truck) and the driver must adhere to.

The regulations require the driver to inspect the load on at least three occasions during transport. The driver must inspect the load completely by performing a “walk around” before he leaves the terminal. Early in the trip, the cargo and the devices used to secure the load must again be inspected withing the first 50 miles of the trip to ensure that the cargo did not shift inside the body of the vehicle. Also, on long hauls, inspections by the driver are also mandated upon a change of his or her duty status, when the vehicle has been driven for more than three hours continuously, or when the vehicle has been driven a distance of 150 miles, whichever occurs first.

The message here to my readers is when engaged in highway driving, ever drive next to or immediately behind large trucks, especially on curves on exit ramps. Always try to keep in front of tractor-trailers and never stay in the driver’s “blind spot” for any length of time, and try to keep to the left of the rig.

Finally, given the statistics, trucks will tip over and accidents will occur. If you, or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident, please call me to set up a free consultation here in my firm’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office to discuss your case in more detail to see if your injuries warrant monetary compensation.