Overloading trucks is a growing industry problem. It leads to unsafe situations and causes injuries and sadly, even fatalities. Statistics show that improperly loaded and overloaded trucks are among the leading causes of truck accidents. Here are the top dangers of overloading your truck:
Overloading violates a number state and federal regulations. When a vehicle is overloaded the braking distance increases and leads to the driver misjudging the stopping distance. Additionally, tire failure rates are higher because when the load increases, the tires run hotter and the center of gravity is raised; which adds to rollover risk. When a load is overweight, unbalanced, overloaded or shifts while moving, the chances of the driver losing control of the vehicle goes up. Even if a vehicle does not exceed the payload limits — if it is improperly loaded it can cause the truck to be off balance, which makes it more likely to roll over even when it under the payload limits.
Regardless of the vehicle weight being within the OEM limits, the vehicle may still be overloaded if a portion of the maximum payload of the truck is on just one axle. Load distribution is equally important as overloading the truck by weight. If the rear axle is carrying more than 90% of the total load, the front axle does not have enough weight n the driving surface which can cause premature wear and tear on suspension components and tires.
Increased Maintenance and Downtime
Because overloading shortens a truck’s service it also increases operating expenses. Surveys show that overloading is actually the #1 cause of unscheduled maintenance on for fleet trucks. The manufacturer of the truck set the GVWR to what the vehicle can safely stop, carry and perform at an acceptable level.
When payload and weight distribution is not considered it can result in equipment failure, personal injuries as well as possible liabilities. Fleet managers need to avoid modifying under-spec’ed trucks in order to carry greater payloads like changing tire sizes or adding spring kits, air shocks, heavy-duty brakes, or anti-sway kits. Often the components can add significant weight to the chassis and that reduces the available payload by several hundred pounds so the modifications can defeat the purpose. But mainly it creates unsafe situations and changes the integrity of the vehicle. Also, modifications can result in warranty claim denial and increase liability exposure in the instance of an accident.
Being hands-on is the best way to determine if vehicles are being overloaded. Go into the field and assess usage. Drivers may request the wrong vehicle for fleet application, meanwhile, the fleet manager is thinking everything is fine. In the field, check for sagging rear-end; premature brake wear, irregular tire wear; and loose, unresponsive steering and suspension, all of which indicate overloading. Clean out unnecessary items and maintain tighter inventory control of what is carried in the vehicle.
Additionally, fleet managers can design loading areas to force workers to distribute the freight weight correctly. Routes can also be scheduled to help position for weight distribution, not just delivery time. Properly training drivers on loading technique are also important. Eliminate unnecessary shelving or equipment and during the training process be sure to train forklift operators on freight distribution.
Overloading is a safety issue, operating cost issue, and a risk management. Be proactive, make sure it’s not just lip service when it comes to curbing overloading and protects your fleet.