Tractor-trailers are vital parts of the American economy and transportation network, but they are also inherently more dangerous than smaller vehicles on the road. Trucks that pull tankers full of liquid goods, including gas and oil, can be even more dangerous. If these tanker trucks roll over, they can cause catastrophic damage, severe injuries, even fatalities. Depending on what a rolled-over tanker truck carried, the spilled contents can also present a serious risk of additional injuries as well as environmental hazards or public health emergencies.
Statistics indicate that almost 80% of all tanker truck rollover accidents happen due to some level of driver error. While truck drivers must obtain special certifications to perform their jobs and generally have more miles of driving under their belts than typical drivers, it is still crucial for them to understand the risks of driving tanker trucks and follow a few best practices to avoid rollovers.
Large trucks cannot stop or slow down as quickly as smaller passenger vehicles. They also require much longer distances to come to a complete stop. If a tanker truck driver is travelling too fast or not paying enough attention to other vehicles on the road, the driver may not have time to slow down or stop to avoid a collision. Tanker truck drivers can easily cause rollovers if they swerve to avoid a collision while traveling at speed. The sudden change in direction will cause the trailer to tip and probably fall over.
Speed is also a problem for turning. Tanker truck drivers need to account for changes on the road, and taking a sharp turn at high speed can easily cause a tanker truck to rollover. Drivers should reduce speed for turns and accommodate their vehicles’ size and weight.
Tanker truck drivers should do everything possible to avoid any sudden movements or jerking of the steering wheel. If a driver needs to suddenly turn to avoid another vehicle, the driver can unintentionally cause the tanker truck to rollover by oversteering or making the move too quickly. Tanker truck drivers can prevent rollovers by staying vigilant for changes in traffic patterns and avoiding reflexive sudden movements.
Tanker truck drivers can avoid rollovers by carefully planning routes ahead of time. By studying a route’s topography, known hazards, and any other elements like road construction on the route, drivers can make their deliveries with additional confidence. A driver who is not expecting a sudden change in road conditions is more likely to suffer a rollover accident, so preparation before every trip is important.
Trucking companies must ensure their drivers receive thorough training and have the experience necessary for handling tanker trucks. Most tanker trucks carry valuable goods, including fossil fuels, so trucking companies and their drivers have a high duty of care to ensure they do not put other drivers at risk with unsafe driving. Other drivers should be wary of all tractor-trailers on the road, especially tanker trucks, and avoid driving aggressively near them. Caution and good judgment from all drivers can help prevent tanker truck rollovers.