Florida Highways: The Dangers Of Shifting Loads On Semi-Trucks

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Many factors can contribute to driving accidents involving semi-trucks, or tractor-trailer “big rigs.” One of those factors is how well and how evenly distributed their cargo has been proportioned by those loading the truck before travel. The positioning of cargo in the semi-truck directly correlates to the amount of weight placed on each of the truck’s axles. If this basic, and very important, step in loading a truck, is not treated with the care it deserves, a truck driver’s cargo load could easily shift through travels. Shifting loads on semi-trucks have caused numerous accidents. If a semi-truck is not properly balanced, it could potentially tip and cause other motorists to become involved in an accident on Saint Petersburg highways.


On May 15, a log truck traveling on Interstate 75 in Pasco County was involved in just such an accident. The cargo in this case was a load of logs. The semi-truck driver was headed north on I-75, close to State Road 52, when his load of logs shifted. The truck flipped onto its side, as typically happens when loads shift (whether freight is on the inside of the truck or on the outside). The driver, having lost control of the truck, then ran into a concrete barrier. Both northbound and southbound lanes of I-75 felt the impact from this accident as troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol had to shut down lanes to manage the after-effects.


The Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine released “The Large Truck Crash Causation Study” in 2008 that was undertaken by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This study particularly examined rollover crashes involving tractor-trailers. The study identified the four main reasons for big rig rollovers:

• Speed and failure to adjust to curves on the road;
• Being inattentive; drivers falling asleep at the wheel;
• Oversteering to correct an inadvertent wrong turn of the wheel; and
• Cargo loads not being correctly placed or not balanced.

This study also concluded that “… rollovers are the deadliest crashes, occurring with particular frequency on freeway ramps and inclines …” This can happen in St. Petersburg just as well as anywhere else in the country.


Rules and regulations are in place to help prevent improperly loaded trucks from using Florida’s highways and, thereby, trying to prevent potential semi-tractor truck crashes due to this cause. Chapter Six, Class D License, as printed on the State of Florida website, in the section of “Limitations on Loading; Securing the Load” outlines as follows:

“You may not drive or move any loaded vehicle on the highway if the load is not secure. The load must not be able to drop, shift, leak, or otherwise escape. You must use a close-fitting cover when hauling loads which could fall or blow onto the roadway. Examples: dirt, sand, lime-rock, gravel, silica, trash or garbage. Every [semi-tractor trailer] truck carrying logs or pulpwood must use proper equipment, including lock chains that will securely fasten the load.”


The reality of the situation is that crashes can and do happen. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident in St. Petersburg with a semi- truck due to improperly loaded freight or loads that have gotten out of balance, perhaps causing a rollover crash, it is wise to speak to a personal injury attorney to determine what recourse you may be allowed to seek for any injuries or damage suffered.

Client review from past personal injury case in Florida


Semi-tractor trailers and even some dually trucks have black boxes similar to those in airplanes. However, once they are repaired, and sometimes even before hand, the recording of the speeds and delta V which are recorded get erased before your personal injury attorney can get to the truck with an engineer to download the information, losing valuable proof. Please do NOT wait to call.