Flurry of rollovers plague cargo tank carriers

CARGO tank vehicle rollovers in fatality accidents far outnumbered those of other trucks in the year 2000, according to William Quade, hazardous materials division chief, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). That year, cargo tanks rolled over in 47% of fatal crashes where a cargo tank was present.

Quade gave the statistics at the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) Safety Council meeting March 26-27 in Orlando FL. He also pointed out that 60% of driver fatalities are the result of rollovers.

Some of the actions that can be taken to alleviate the risk include training dispatchers as well as drivers on driver fatigue. They also are trained to coordinate schedules so drivers will not have to speed or otherwise increase risks of rollovers in order to reach destinations.

Travis McCloud of Heil Trailer International said: “Ultimately, it boils down to driver training and the understanding that the tank trailer is hauling a dynamic product — and how that impacts the overall dynamics of the trailer.” He pointed out that just a minor adjustment in speed changes the centrifugal force of the tractor/trailer unit.

Carriers were advised to increase training of drivers transitioning from hauling non-bulk products to tank trailers so they understand the special driving techniques that are required for bulk cargoes. They should be aware that shippers want payloads increased and delivered just-in-time while trailers and tractors are being built lighter for efficiency. The combination can result in a rollover accident if the driver doesn't understand the dynamics of the vehicles.

Dispatchers, as well as drivers, should be trained in rollover prevention since they schedule deliveries and understand the logistics involved in the routes. When an accident does occur, log books should be reviewed to determine if enough appropriate time was allowed for the delivery.

As part of NTTC's effort to reduce rollovers, a committee was named to develop a form that could be used to gather incident information from carriers that experience rollovers. Steve Niswander of Groendyke Transport Inc was named chairman.

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