The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Public Sector Fleet ManagementVehicle Overloading Is Expensive & Dangerous

June 2005, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

A Safety Issue
One of the best ways to determine whether vehicles are being overloaded is during PM intervals. There are several way to determine overloading: a sagging rear end, irregular tire wear, premature brake wear, and loose unresponsive suspension and steering. You should also take the opportunity to walk around your fleet operation and assess actual vehicle usage. Overloading is dangerous because it creates an unsafe vehicle and increases liability exposure in the event of an accident. Consider the following:
  • Emergency handling capability of an overloaded vehicle is drastically reduced, which may result in an accident.
  • Braking distance increases significantly, which can cause drivers to misjudge stopping distances.
  • Tire failure rates are higher, because tires run hotter. Ways to Avoid Overloading
    There are five steps you can take to avoid overloading: 1. Avoid Modifying Vehicles.
    It is advisable to avoid modifying a vehicle to accommodate a heavier payload, such as changing tire sizes, adding spring kits, air shocks, heavy-duty brakes, and anti-sway kits. When you modify a vehicle, you creat an unsafe situation by changing the integrity of the vehicle. In addition, this may affect the new-vehicle warranty and increase liability exposure if there is an accident. 2. Install Weight Meters.
    A weight meter will automatically determine payload weight and help to minimize unintentional overloading. 3. Select a Different Vehicle.
    You may not need a larger vehicle to carry the desired payload, just a different vehicle. A cargo van may not be best for your needs: you might do better with a pickup truck with a topper combination and pull-out shelving system, which can haul more weight. 4. Don’t Carry Unnecessary Items.
    One way to avoid overloading a vehicle is to eliminate unnecessary equipment or shelving. Modify storage bin units to fit your needs. Clean out the unnecessary items. Carry only those items that you know you will need. If given an opportunity, drivers will carry everything they can conceivably fit into a vehicle. 5. Train Drivers on Proper Load Distribution.
    Design loading areas in a vehicle that force workers to position cargo and material correctly. It is important to train drivers on proper loading techniques, such as balancing the load, so that drivers don’t create an unsafe driving situation. The Bottom Line
    The bottom line is that overloading is not only expensive from the standpoint of maintenance, it also increases fuel consumption, which adds to a vehicle’s operating expense. Let me know what you think.
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