The Danger Posed by Improperly Secured Cargo Transported by Non-Commercial Drivers
A mother was almost home as she approached the off-ramp near her residence. Before she could depart the interstate by taking her exit, her daughter was struck in the head and face, causing catastrophic injury. The unsecured item that fell from an open trailer was a large piece of furniture that had not been fastened down. Because the driver of the truck neglected to properly secure his load, the young girl suffered a permanent loss of vision when a forty pound board flew through the windshield of the other vehicle. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the law in the state where this tragedy occurred did not deem such an event a crime at the time of the incident. The only law enforcement-related sanction faced by the driver of the truck was, outrageously, a littering citation.
Congress provided funding to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2012 to conduct a study on collisions involving motor vehicles transporting unsecured loads. The report found that all fifty states and the District of Columbia have laws that impose requirements to secure loads on commercial drivers. However, the report also indicated that only fifteen states had laws that made it a crime for a non-commercial driver to operate a vehicle like a pickup truck with an unsecured load. While this might seem to some like an extremely rare event, the GAO concluded that debris and cargo that fall into the roadway causes 51,000 crashes resulting in about 10,000 injuries and 400 fatalities in a typical twelve month period. The GAO report also noted that these numbers are conservative because law enforcement officers have difficulty determining an unsecured load caused a collision and states lack uniform reporting of this cause.
Most motorists have probably observed a motor vehicle traveling down the highways or interstates around Atlanta with a load of cargo that does not appear to fit properly in the vehicle. When a pickup truck, flatbed trailer, or 18-wheeler is transporting too heavy or large a load, other vehicle occupants sharing the roadway can be endangered. Similarly, loads that are not secured properly can also contribute to collisions when motorists are forced to execute emergency evasive actions which can involve inadvertently swerving into an adjacent vehicle or losing control of a car before departing the roadway.
An object that falls from a pickup or tractor-trailer can wreak havoc. When a twenty pound object tumbles from a truck moving at a speed of 55 mph, the object will generate the force of impact equivalent to a half ton when it falls on another vehicle. This immense force can total the vehicle that is struck by the object and cause permanent debilitating injuries to vehicle occupants. While a fair number of motorists might consider this type of incident to be extremely unlikely, such accidents occur more often than many drivers would assume.
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If you have been injured by debris or cargo from another vehicle, our Atlanta car accident and injury lawyers work diligently to pursue the fullest compensation for our clients. Montlick and Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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