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La Canada Big Rig Accident Blamed on Brake Failure, Overloading

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A runaway big rig loaded with 78,000 pounds of onions rammed into several cars in a La Canada parking lot injuring one person and almost running over another person, according to a KABC news report. The big rig accident was reportedly caused after the truck’s brakes failed and the driver, 43-year-old James Byrne, lost control of the vehicle as he got over the Angeles Crest Highway and headed toward Foothill Boulevard. He then crashed the big rig through a guard rail in front of the Hill Street Café and plowed into several vehicles in the parking lot.

A worker in the parking lot suffered minor injuries. Simon Lim, a supply manager of the café, almost got hit by the runaway truck. At least a half a dozen cars were damaged by the runaway big rig. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers said it is illegal to haul a load of that size up on the Angeles Forest and Angeles Crest highways.

I’m relieved that this big rig accident did not cause any catastrophic injuries or fatalities.
This accident occurred at a major intersection and the damages and casualties could have been much worse. However, this incident highlights a major problem with large commercial trucks and big rigs on our roadways – overloading. The article states that the big rig was loaded with 78,000 pounds of onions.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates commercial trucking companies, limits the total weight for commercial vehicles to 20,000 pounds per axle, up to a limit of 80,000 pounds total. I won’t be surprised if in this case, the truck had been overloaded or if the load was unevenly distributed. It is usually the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the weight limit is not exceeded and that the weight is evenly distributed throughout the vehicle.

Overloading a big rig can also lead to other problems. An overloaded big rig also increases the risk of mechanical malfunction such as brake failure or tire blowouts. If I were representing the injured I’d be interested to see whether the brake failure in this case was caused by poor vehicle maintenance or the overloading.

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