What could go wrong if as a trucker you overload your truck?

As a trucker you probably have heard discussions about overloading of trucks many times. It is obviously illegal, but have you personally ever cared to look at the risks involved, just to understand how overloading your truck can adversely affect you and other road users? Most likely NO!

You probably hear or know about trucking companies notorious for overloading their trucks and seem to always get away with it. Let that not fool you to think that there isn’t much risk involved.

If you compare the small ‘bribe’ you get from your company for taking a chance with overloading to the risks involved you will definitely not do it. But because you may have not looked closely at the dangers, you saw it as an incentive.

I have compiled the risks you sign up for the moment you overload your truck to help you understand how far you would want to dice with your life.

1. Trucks react differently when the maximum weights which they are designed to carry are exceeded. The truck will be less stable, difficult to steer and take longer to stop.

I’m sure you have seen an overloaded truck struggling to turn at an intersection – an overloaded truck turns wider than many roads would allow.

2. Overloaded trucks can cause the tyres to overheat and wear rapidly which increases the chance of premature, dangerous and expensive failure or blow-outs. 

This point does not need further explanation, just imagine your truck is overloaded and you experience a front tyre burst on a slope while driving a Freightliner (as an example)

3. The overloaded vehicle cannot accelerate as normal – making it difficult to overtake.

With an overloaded truck you are forced to risk unsafe overtaking because the truck does not gain speed quick enough. You will find that you can overtake but it will take you longer or you come at maximum speed and try to overtake before you lose momentum which is very dangerous.

4. Braking systems have to work harder because the vehicle is heavier due to overloading. Brakes overheat and lose their effectiveness to stop the truck.

Many hill slopes and passes are infamous for accidents that are caused by brakes failure as a result of overuse either because of overload or otherwise.

5. The whole suspension system comes under stress and, over time, the weakest point can give way. 

Some serious accidents, many which have not been explained, are caused by mechanical problems on the truck which come as a result of overloading. The design of each truck is such that it can safely load so much weight, ignoring the maximum thereof has it’s consequences.

It is a fact that we share the roads with some very reckless motorists, imagine a car cuts in front of you and stops abruptly, while you are overloaded. You are going to try in vain to avoid to hit it while you blaming the driver but you forget that it could have been easier to react if you weren’t overloaded.

There is just so many things that could go wrong…

Overloaded trucks
Two ­heavily overloaded trucks were stopped by officials at the Mooi River Traffic Control Centre on the N3 highway. Pic IOL