New Orleans has its fair share of big rig trucks transporting goods and equipment in and out of the metropolitan area. On any given day, the Port of New Orleans alone has more than 2,000 trucks hauling cargo to and from the Port. This level of activity is a vital component of the local and state economies, but it also raises the stakes when it comes to the importance of truck safety.
Most drivers intuitively understand the inherent dangers of having trucks weighing as much as 80,000 pounds traveling on interstate highways next to smaller vehicles that are only a fraction of their size. But size and weight alone are not the only safety concerns with regard to commercial trucks. Truck companies and drivers must adhere to all federal and state laws when it comes to securing cargo.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, if a truck is traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour, an object that weighs just 20 pounds can fall from the vehicle and strike another object with the impact force of half of a ton. Therefore, if a piece of cargo falls from a truck and hits another vehicle, it can cause major damage and severe injuries to anybody in that vehicle. Even at slower speeds, falling objects from trucks can cause major havoc and lead to accidents.
In 2012, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report stating that in 2010, 51,000 incidents on the country's roadways were attributed to unsecured cargo loads and road debris. These incidents caused a staggering 440 deaths and 10,000 injuries.
The problem of unsecured loads is not specific to 18-wheeler trucks. Delivery trucks and even smaller vehicles like pickup trucks can cause the same kinds of problems if the driver fails to appropriately secure his or her cargo load. When truck accidents result from unsecured cargo, any injured victims may be able to pursue the driver and the company that owns the truck for legal damages.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, "Preventing the tragic consequences of unsecured loads," David Friedman, Accessed on Sept. 22, 2015