DOT, NTTC score big with rollover summits

Feb. 1, 2008
Outstanding and fantastic were the two adjectives used most frequently to describe the three Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention Summits that were held in

Outstanding and fantastic were the two adjectives used most frequently to describe the three Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention Summits that were held in late 2007. Developed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), the summits were open to the public and took place in St Louis, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; and Oakland, California.

This was an amazing joint industry/government effort. It shows what can be done when businessmen and bureaucrats set aside differences and work toward a common good. DOT and NTTC are to be commended for all they did to develop this successful outreach effort on a very serious issue. It would be great if this sort of industry/government cooperation continues.

DOT asked NTTC for help in organizing the summits as part of an outreach effort to focus attention on tank truck rollovers. DOT officials believe that too many tank truck rollovers are occurring, and they developed plenty of statistics to support that argument.

DOT research suggests that six to seven truck rollovers occur everyday across the United States. Rollovers are a factor in 25% of hazardous materials transport accidents and contribute to 75% of the spills. Approximately 45% of truck driver injuries are incurred in rollovers, and these accidents account for around 52% of truck driver fatalities. The average cost of a tanker rollover is $595,215.

Additional statistics were assembled through the Cargo Tank Roll Stability Study conducted by Battelle. That study, which formed the core of the Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention Summits, identified four primary factors that contribute to tank truck rollovers: Driver training, electronic stability systems, cargo tank design, and highway design.

Far and away, the driver is the most critical factor. No amount of technology or vehicle redesign can overcome serious driver error or recklessness.

Tank truck drivers must be trained properly in rollover prevention awareness. It is critical. Summit participants generally agreed that rollover instruction should be part of a comprehensive training program that includes defensive driving. Speakers also pointed out that one of the best ways for a fleet to reduce rollovers is to lower overall accident frequency.

Rollover training must be consistent for all drivers, and it must be repeated at regular intervals. The rollover prevention message must be communicated to the driver's family. One reason is that families play a key role in ensuring that drivers are well rested and relaxed before they hit the road.

Summit participants asked for new rollover prevention training materials that would help ensure a more consistent approach. NTTC and DOT have expressed a desire to develop just such an industry-wide training program.

NTTC executives already have met several times since the summits to discuss next steps. This includes developing a uniform tank truck rollover prevention training and awareness program. A rollover training DVD is on the agenda, and a report on best training practices is a possibility.

Regulatory action is an option but is not certain. Further, the tank truck industry seems supportive of some action. For instance, summit participants indicated in a survey that they felt a federal mandate for electronic roll stability systems would provide a level playing field for all tank fleet operators.

Whatever action is taken, we can only hope that DOT will continue to communicate and cooperate with the tank truck industry. As the rollover prevention summits showed, good things come from industry/government cooperation.

About the Author

Charles Wilson

Charles E. Wilson has spent 20 years covering the tank truck, tank container, and storage terminal industries throughout North, South, and Central America. He has been editor of Bulk Transporter since 1989. Prior to that, Wilson was managing editor of Bulk Transporter and Refrigerated Transporter and associate editor of Trailer/Body Builders. Before joining the three publications in Houston TX, he wrote for various food industry trade publications in other parts of the country. Wilson has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and served three years in the U.S. Army.