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Reduced driving speed pays off with fewer tank trailer rollovers

REDUCE speed. That was the central message in a discussion on tank trailer rollover prevention presented at the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) Safety Council Seminar March 29-31 in Phoenix, Arizona.

If drivers are traveling too fast in a turn or when they run off the road, it's too late to correct by the time they feel the trailer movement, said Reid Nabarrete of Kenworth Truck Co.

Nabarrete, Steve Niswander of Groendyke Transport, Tony Douglas of The Smith System, and Neil Voorhees, Trimac Transportation, discussed driver training programs that can help alleviate accidents.

“Drivers are still the key to a safe-operating truck,” Nabarrete said.

Rollover incidents have increased in recent years due to inappropriate speed, distractions, and inexperienced drivers.

Even though a vehicle may be equipped with a rollover warning system, an accident won't be prevented if drivers are driving at too high a rate of speed. Nevertheless, the warning device can prevent accidents, Nabarrete said.

Of rollovers, 58% end in the death of the driver and 95% result in a product spill, Nabarrete added.

Niswander encouraged further carrier/driver awareness of the rollover problem and ways to alleviate it. He suggested a program that would include use of billboards, television ads, posters, payroll stuffers, and brochures that could be placed in truck stops.

“We've got to get to the guy who is driving the truck,” he added.

Ways to avoid accidents include keeping the eyes moving, Smith said. Drivers should be constantly looking ahead, from side-to-side, and scanning mirrors.

“Space is the key word,” he added. Drivers should be aware of how much room they need for an out should a sudden stop be required.

Smith also pointed out that a driver training program can help reduce fuel usage and maintenance costs, help in driver stress, and result in a better public image because of fewer accidents.

“You have to get drivers into some classroom learning and some hands-on learning,” said Voorhees. “Changing behavior is very difficult.”

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