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Dangerous loads on the highway

Ever followed a truck on the winding roads here in Hawaii and thought to yourself, "That load does not look all that secure." You often see precarious loads of building materials, landscaping materials or in many cases, you cannot really tell what it is, but it does not look safe.

Truck accidents can be cause by material from a load shifting on the truck or trailer and causing the vehicle to tip or jackknife or it may send debris cascading across the road and on to other cars or trucks. These accidents can be deadly if material is sent crashing through a windshield or roof of a car.

Near Philadelphia last week, a truck carrying scrap metal tipped across the median barrier of I-76, dropping a scrap engine on to a woman's Corolla. The crash trapped her in the vehicle and a tow truck crane was needed to life the engine off her car.

She was taken to the trauma center at a nearby hospital with serious injuries. The reason for the crash was not known at the time of the news story, but there are many potential causes.

The load could have been negligently secured on the truck. The truck may have suffered a mechanical breakdown, ranging from brakes failing or unexpectedly locking up, or the suspension collapsing and sending the tractor-trailer out of control. 

Other causes include drug or alcohol use by the truck driver or an incapacitating medical emergency. Distraction by a cell phone or texting is a frequent cause of accidents. While there is no way to protect yourself from every threat on the road, not following trucks carrying ungainly loads of scrap may be something to avoid.

Source: 6ABC.com, "Scrap metal truck drops engine on car on Rt. 202 in Upper Merion Twp.," September 4, 2013

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