Overloaded Trucks Are A Problem . . .

Before I got into the car business in 1972 and even prior to being an auto mechanic, I was a truck driver for a landscaping company. I did many jobs around there from digging trenches (with a shovel), greasing trucks laying on drain rock with a hand pump grease gun, loading trucks with a skip loader, driving dump trucks (2-3 yard and mostly 5-7 yard), and other things. There were two jobs I liked: using the skip loader and driving dump trucks. So, long prior to getting involved with commercial upfitted trucks, I experienced them first hand. This was between 1966 and 1968.

Part of my experience with these trucks was being overloaded. My title is Overloaded Trucks Are A Problem . . . and they very much are--but, even more so, they can be deadly. Since becoming involved in upfitted commercial trucks, I have always been more concerned than most about GVWR, GAWR, cargo capacity disclosures, taking care of equipment and so on. I'm sure it was from these experiences that I do this today in my training classes.

A couple of short recollections. One, I was driving an old International truck with a 2-3 yard steel dump bed. The truck was not in the best of shape and it was build in the 1950s, but the boss had me use it from time to time. This time I was carrying 3 or more yards (stacked as high as it would go) of drain rock, a common filler and used in crushed form for dirt roads, etc. I remember the truck feeling very overloaded (I'm 16 years old by the way) and I'm on a 4 lane separated road wanting to turn left in the left turn lane coming to the lane at about 40-50 miles an hour slowing to get into the lane which is filled with cars. It was at this point that the left rear leaf spring broke and my load shifted and I couldn't stop in time. I was about to plow into a long line of cars. Luckily, I quickly checked the right mirror and saw an opening to get back in the other lane and just in time drove past the cars in the turn lane. Far too close. Totally the responsibility of the driver to not allow a load to exceed the capacity of the truck. I was inexperienced and they were uncaring. It opened my eyes wide.

The second experience was in the 1965 International 5-7 yard steel dump. I was working in an other city hired out as a sub contracted truck for a crushed rock company. My boss didn't like wasting a load, so he always had me bring a load of drain rock or something like that home for stock. My boss didn't think the new smog equipment was a good thing, so he plugged up the smog equipment to get better performance. Little did he know that all day long that act was causing the engine to spit out oil and it was landing in the right front brake drum. So, by the end of the day, I'm almost home and going with a full load at about 50 miles an hour coming to a major 2 way stop with the majority of traffic without a stop crossing the road I am on. I begin applying the brakes with plenty of time and nothing is happening. I begin pushing harder and harder and it is just barely slowing. I have no way to go right or left, only straight and straight I went right through the intersection. I lucked out again and did not hit anyone. When I got back to the yard, we saw what the problem was. That was a very scary experience.

Both times, the trucks were overloaded putting added stress on the components like brakes, frame, springs, tires, axles, wheels. Both times the equipment was not being maintained well. Sometimes overloading is obvious, like the photo above, much of the time is isn't nearly this obvious. As a seller, I want to do my best to educate enough to have people buy a truck that is right for the job. I try to make sure they have plenty of fudge room, but not excessive. I provide a disclosure that clearly states the cargo capacity and the customer signs it. It will be clear and in writing what the truck is designed to do. The rest is on the truck owner and driver and they do have a huge responsibility because overloaded trucks are a problem. . .

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