The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) can have an appreciable impact in a California truck crash case, involving injuries or fatalities, in regards to recovering damages. All commercial vehicles, weighing more than 10.000 lbs. or used to transport hazardous materials, and are used for interstate commerce are bound by the FMCSR.
On January 7, a truck carrying a cargo of both methanol and hydrogen peroxide, collided head on with a vehicle on I-90 near Beloit, Wisconsin. The fire from the trucks ruptured fuel tank lit up the dark early morning sky like broad daylight. Local firefighters called in a hazmat specialty team to assess the situation. Fortunately, the methanol drums did not rupture and mix with the hydrogen peroxide, sparing the emergency responders from facing a massive explosion. This was one of the most recent of many crashes involving hazardous materials on the nation's highways recently.
Tractor trailers, due to their size and weight, are inherently hazardous. An overloaded or improperly loaded trailer increases the risk of a truck accident significantly. A tractor trailers cargo weight limit is determined by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) calculated by brake, powertrain, frame and suspension limitations. An overloaded 18-wheeler is operating with a dangerous strain on that equipment. The stopping distance of the truck is dramatically increased. The truck is more likely to jackknife, especially on wet roads. With a raised center of gravity and the possibility of load shifting, the chance of a rollover is much higher. Some overloaded trailers have been known to buckle in the middle and split open on the highway. In many situations, the driver is not even aware of the weight issue until the truck does not respond properly when corrective measures are employed. Despite federal and state regulations, many overloaded tractor trailers are still traveling the nation's highways