Transporting a load with the right weight distribution is a critical factor in a safe journey from point A to B. Even when a truck is not overloaded, unbalanced loads are a hazard.
Poorly distributed loads can be a factor that contributes to truck rollovers. An uneven load causes extra movement, making it more difficult to control the vehicle and putting extra strain on truck and trailer suspension components.
An uneven load, especially with more load at the rear of the trailer or truck, will result in a reduction in steering, and can cause “fish-tailing” and loss of control resulting in a possible jack knife or a rollover. Too much weight on one side of the truck causes other problems such as steering out of corners and curves. On hills and slippery surfaces, where traction is needed, the tyres on the heavy side will have more traction and the tyres on the light side will lack traction. Poorly balanced loads can also affect braking, causing the brakes on one side of the truck to lock up.
The load should be evenly distributed along the length and across the width of the body. Failure to do this may result in an unstable vehicle which may be dangerous to drive and have axle and tyre overloads. It also has the potential to create a severe hazard during the tipping process. Many tippers have a high centre of gravity; therefore, any uneven weight distribution is likely to increase problems encountered particularly when cornering, braking and on roads with excessive camber.
While the practice of loading your truck correctly is vitally important, what is just as important is knowing the type of load you are carrying. If you are in the business of transporting building and construction debris, you could be loading up your truck with anything from construction rubble and bricks, to topsoil and sand.
The reason behind being aware of the nature of your load, is because you need to know how it may shift during transport. The way in which it is loaded will play a pivotal role in driver safety but knowing how much your load could potentially move during transport can dictate the way you drive.
If you were transporting bricks or heavy construction debris, although it may be ‘technically’ loose, its weight and how it is loaded, should restrict movement whilst in transport. However, if you are transporting a load that can shift easily, like sand, there is a good chance that it could move during transport, and therefore make your load unbalanced, which may affect the handling of your vehicle.
However, if you have ensured that your load is secure, and have taken in to account the possibility of a little shifting, is there anything else you can do to reduce driver safety issues? Yes, there is.
Tyre balancing is one of the best ways to increase safety when transporting heavy loads. While ‘Steer Tyres’ tend to exhibit balance-related irregular wear more rapidly than drive or trailer tires, it’s best to ensure all your tyres are well balanced so they can handle the weights they need to bear. Even if a load shifts in transit, having well-balanced tyres will assist with reducing the impact it has on driver safety.
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