The United States economy boasts an amazingly efficient transportation network and supply chain. Goods that we purchase every day here in Oregon originate from points all over America and all around the world. While many goods spend time on ships and trains, the huge majority of products we purchase spend at least part of their journey being trucked.
Given the numerous types of products being transported, many different types of trucks are required. For example, automobiles would be carried on a different kind of truck than you would use to transport logs or wood chips. Similarly, the type of truck necessary to carry a load of boxed dry goods is quite different from a truck used to carry gasoline.
Not surprisingly, different types of trucks have safety issues unique to the design and functioning of the particular truck. In this article, we will focus on cargo tank trucks and discuss ways in which rollovers can be prevented.
What is a Cargo Tank Truck?
You’ve undoubtedly witnessed tank trucks on the road hauling gasoline, but that is not all that they carry. The Code of Federal Regulations provides that “cargo tank motor vehicle means a motor vehicle with one or more cargo tanks permanently attached to or forming an integral part of the motor vehicle.” The law further provides that the cargo tank is primarily intended to carry liquids, solids, gases, or semi-solids.
Tank trucks often have extremely large capacities with regard to the volume of materials they can carry. For example, large tank trucks may have capacities ranging from 5,500 to 11,600 gallons.
On the one hand, these trucks may carry relatively harmless materials like milk, water, or liquid sugar. On the other hand, they also carry hazardous materials such as diesel, gasoline, and chemicals. While a crash involving any large truck can be disastrous, the danger can be exacerbated when hazardous materials are involved.
Cargo Tank Truck Rollovers
Rollovers are a real concern for tank trucks. In a detailed Cargo Tank Incidents Study, a study of 93 hazmat cargo tank rollovers was prepared for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The analysis first notes that tank trucks are more susceptible to rolling over than other big trucks. This is due to multiple factors, including the size and weight distribution of cargo.
However, the factor most responsible is the surging and sloshing of liquids from front to back and side to side. When drivers of these vehicles take curves or are faced with emergency situations, the movement of the cargo causes the tank truck to behave differently than a normal tractor-trailer truck.
Preventing Cargo Tank Truck Rollovers
After a thorough analysis of the Cargo Tank Incidents Study, the researchers made a number of recommendations to improve rollover incidence. Importantly, the researchers noted that driver factors were the factors most commonly identified to contribute to cargo tank rollovers, concluding that driver errors caused almost half of the rollovers. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the researchers’ recommendations greatly focused on improving driver performance. Some of those recommendations include:
- Encourage the development of a Tank Vehicle Endorsement Curriculum and a clearer training manual.
- Use advanced training technology to better train tank drivers.
- Encourage wider adoption of technology such as stability systems, lane departure warning systems, blind-spot protection, and collision mitigation.
Call with Questions
Driving a tank truck is a special skill. Unfortunately, some drivers are not properly trained (or do not adhere to their training) and cause accidents. If you have questions about a recent accident with a semi-truck, the experienced truck accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to provide a free consultation and answer them. We believe that it is important to hold negligent drivers and companies accountable for their actions so that the entire Oregon motoring public will be safer.