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When You See Unsecured Cargo on a Truck: Safety Tips

In March of 2021, a Florida couple was driving on the highway. The truck ahead of them was hauling some furniture. Without warning, a sofa came dislodged from the cargo. Airborne, the sofa almost came down onto the couple’s car. Swerving, the couple hit a median, and their car flipped, landing down on the hood. Bypassing drivers stopped to check on the couple. They were fortunately unharmed, and when a state trooper arrived, he issued them a $166 ticket for driving in the wrong lane.

The trooper’s assessment was that the couple was driving too close to the truck ahead of them. If the couple had been at least two car lengths behind the truck, the trooper said, they may have been able to avoid the accident.

Avoiding Spilling Cargo

If you’re driving, and the truck in front of you has wobbly, unsecured products, you need to move to another lane. Here are some safety tips for when you see poorly secured cargo in front of you.

Keep Your Distance

The Florida state trooper mentioned in the incident above is right about the law. Drivers are expected to maintain a safe following distance from the car(s) ahead of them. If too close to the driver ahead of you, it will be difficult to respond to sudden dangers.  In the case of the Florida drivers, they could not avoid the loose furniture.

When you’re driving behind a truck, take a visual assessment of their cargo. If it’s a semi, observe the lock. Is it loose and jangling? Look at the items on a passenger truck. Have they been strapped down? If anything looks unsecured, it’s time to start putting distance between you and the other vehicle. Don’t suddenly hit your brakes. Ease off of the gas and let some distance grow.

Change Lanes, and Get Ahead

After creating some distance, change lanes. Stay calm, and don’t change lanes rapidly. Make sure there’s a clear opportunity to move, and then take it.

Being in another lane is still dangerous when the truck is ahead of you. If something spills out, it could roll wildly. Cars will likely swerve to avoid it, causing more safety concerns in the process. The best solution for getting out of harm’s way is to safely and methodically work to get ahead of the truck.

Report the Driver

Once you are clear of danger, reach out to someone. You might be safe, but there are still cars, motorcycles, and trucks behind you that may be in danger. The truck driver themselves could lose control if something spills out.

You want to take this opportunity to report the truck. Using a hands-free device, make a call. .If the vehicle is a passenger truck, you need to contact the police. Motorists can dial *FHP (*347) to report drunk drivers, traffic crashes, stranded or disabled vehicles or any suspicious incidents and unsafe drivers Give them as many details as you can. Let them know where you are and where the truck is. Tell them exits, mile markers, and anything else they can use to locate the truck in question. Tell law enforcement what the make and model is if you know it. If you don’t, describe it in detail. And, of course, if you happened to catch the license number, that’s going to be a huge help to the authorities.

Remember, you are not calling to get anyone in trouble. This is about saving lives. Keep your call direct, and stick to the facts.

Liability in a Truck Cargo Spill

If you are injured by truck cargo, it may be possible to file a personal injury suit. However, liability in cargo-related accidents isn’t always clear. Here are some possibilities as to who may be held responsible.

Commercial Trucks

In the case of commercial trucks, liability isn’t always on the driver. Responsibility depends on who loaded and secured the cargo. The trucking company may have done a poor job, overloading the truck and fastening the door improperly. Your lawyer will look into these details. They will investigate the chain of possession, tracking down exactly who is responsible for these unsafe conditions.

Passenger Trucks

Liability isn’t automatically placed on the truck’s owner. For instance, the owner may have had nothing to do with the cargo. Perhaps their friend was borrowing the truck and did all the loading and transporting. In that case, the friend might be held responsible. Specific facts like these are very important in civil court. Attorneys are trained to investigate the evidence of a case and hold the right people responsible.

If you’ve been hurt in a truck cargo spill, call us today at (850) 764-0383 or contact us online. We can set up a free consultation and discuss seeking compensation for your injuries.

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