Overloaded tractor-trailers and other overweight trucks pose a grave danger on South Carolina roadways. Carrying too much cargo increases the risk of serious truck accidents that can cause severe injuries or even death.

Overloaded and improperly loaded trucks crisscross South Carolina’s many trucking routes, including I-26, I-95, I-77 and I-85, including a large volume of trucks carrying goods to and from the Port of Charleston and the nearby Port of Savannah in Georgia.

Some trucking companies overload trucks to save money by using lower gross vehicle weight (GVW) trucks that carry less stringent licensing rules for drivers and reduced fuel costs.

But overloading trucks is a dangerous, not to mention illegal, practice. These trucks are much more likely to get into an accident, and the severity of the accident may be worsened by the excess weight.

Overloaded trucks take longer to stop and drivers can misjudge the stopping distances. These trucks also have an increased risk of rollover due to a raised center of gravity. The load can also become unbalanced or shift while the truck is moving, which can cause the driver to lose control of a vehicle that takes longer to stop and has a greater chance of rolling over. Tire failure is also a concern with overweight trucks, since the excess load causes tires to get hotter.

In the end, the quest to save money by overloading trucks can backfire since an overloaded vehicle will have greater wear and tear on tires and other parts of the truck, likely negating any savings. However, some unscrupulous trucking companies still put perceived short-term savings above safety and long-term costs.

The concern about overloaded trucks comes as more and more big rigs travel South Carolina’s highways. The success of the Port of Charleston, while a great thing for the state’s economy, adds to the danger of an already crowded I-26 – the longest east-west interstate in South Carolina and a major commuter route for the Charleston area.

I-26 already has a higher fatality rate compared to other interstates, especially the segment between Orangeburg and Summerville. If trucks coming from the port traveling on I-26 are overloaded, that makes the situation even more dangerous.

In addition, a new rail yard to support the port would draw additional trucks – and potentially overloaded trucks – to the Charleston area, adding to the danger.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a large truck accident, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to go over your options. An experienced truck accident lawyer may work with investigators and accident reconstruction experts to determine the true cause of the crash, including whether the truck was overloaded.

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About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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