Recently, KHOU.com in Houston published a video showing a truck taking what was described as the "wildest ride." The video depicted a truck carrying a massive load of materials. The truck's load was not balanced, and the cargo shifted to the passenger side of the truck. The shifting of the weight made the truck so unbalanced, the entire rig began to lean over on its side. Despite the fact it was tipping, the truck continued to drive.
While this video depicted a very unusual scene due to the extent of the load problems, unbalanced loads are actually far too common and can cause serious truck accidents on the highway. Truck drivers are expected to make certain loads are balanced and properly secured. These drivers, and often the companies they work for, can be held accountable if there is a failure to load the truck in a safe way and a crash occurs as a result.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has published a Texas Motor Carrier's Guide to Highway Safety. This guide includes a summary of federal regulations applicable to commercial trucks. Among the many rules listed in the Guide to Highway Safety are federal regulations that provide details on requirements for safe loading. According to this Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations rule 392.9 "no one may drive or require anyone to drive a CMV [commercial motor vehicle] unless the cargo is properly loaded and secure."
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides more details on the applicability of this regulation. In particular, FMCSA explains how a motor carrier can fulfill responsibilities for proper loading. A motor carrier can fulfill responsibilities for proper loading by:
- Arranging for the loading process to be supervised so compliance can be determined.
- Obtaining a notation on the fright bill attesting to the proper loading of the vehicle.
- Getting permission to break the seal so that an inspection may be conducted.
FMCSA also makes clear drivers of commercial motor vehicles are not required to personally load, brace, tie down, or otherwise secure loads. However, drivers do have to be familiar with the process for securing cargo and may have to adjust either the cargo or the devices used to secure it in order to remain in compliance with federal regulations for safe cargo transport.
If trucking companies or drivers violate the regulations on safe loading and an accident occurs as a result, collision victims and their families may pursue a claim for compensation for serious injuries or for wrongful death resulting from the truck accident.