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Let's stop tank truck rollovers NOW!

(With apologies to “Dear Abby”)

Dear John,

I'm looking for some info to show at my next safety meeting about tank rollovers. Have anything that will open there eyes to keep them safe out there?

Moe Gockley
Safety Director

Dear Moe,

Boy is your timing good as valuable information is available to show your, and all, drivers the importance of preventing cargo tank rollovers for our industry and to demonstrate just how concerned folks in Washington DC are about rollovers. Drivers are the key to winning this battle.

First, the good news. National Tank Truck Carriers worked with the Department of Transportation to develop an outstanding video on Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention. That video is now available free for downloading and copying. You can give all your drivers — and I suggest everyone in your company — a copy of that video. Simply link to the news section at

You will see some equipment and drivers in that video that you should recognize. Thanks to Kenan Advantage Group (KAG), Eagle Transport, and Florida Rock & Tank Lines for providing equipment and drivers for the video. Special kudos go to KAG's Becky Perlaky, who is sure to be nominated for an Academy Award for logistics support. The driver-focused video should help generate topics for several safety meetings. NTTC will send a DVD to anyone who sends me a “Dear John” request at [email protected].

The Tank Truck Rollover Prevention poster program developed by NTTC associate member J J Keller Inc with ongoing input from NTTC member safety professionals is going strong, and many carriers have developed similar programs featuring their own equipment and drivers. Industry awareness about rollover prevention is high. We talk about it at every NTTC meeting.

Now to Washington. Your columnist spent two days earlier this month at a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of Inquiry hearing on cargo tank rollovers. We had “party status” which means we were allowed to ask questions of the six panels of experts.

This is the same NTSB that investigates major transportation incidents such as plane crashes and public transit disasters. NTSB also is a driving force behind the unnecessary return of wetlines legislation and proposed regulations on our industry. NTSB does not write regulations or legislation, but it does have significant influence on those that do, and on industry.

NTSB's Chairman Deborah Hersman chaired the cargo tank rollover investigation hearing and opened the meeting with the following comments:

“The National Transportation Safety Board has been concerned about the rollover and integrity of cargo tanks associated with the subsequent release of high-risk hazardous materials for more than 40 years . . . The purpose of this hearing is to examine the factors that can lead to tank truck rollovers and determine what actions we can take to mitigate these factors.”

Moe, you can watch the two-day hearing on NTSB's website for the next three months. You also can read and download some of the hundreds of exhibits and reports that were submitted for the hearing. View the hearing and get access to the informative documents at the news section. In addition, we will provide details when NTSB issues its report.

Our industry must view NTSB's interest in cargo tank rollovers very seriously. It is not relevant to NTSB that cargo tank rollovers are rare, nor should it be to us. Most rollovers are preventable, and we want to stop them.

Some of NTTC's “best and brightest” executives from our carrier and associate ranks served on the expert panels, including Neil Voorhees of Trimac Transportation, Steve Niswander of Groendyke Transport, Dave Sonneman from Praxair, John Cannon from Walker Holdings, Tom Anderson from LBT, and Mike Pitts from Mississippi Tank. NTTC Members Haldex, Meritor WABCO and Bendix made detailed presentations on electronic vehicle stability control systems. The consistent message they delivered was that our industry does care about rollovers, and we are doing something about them.

Additionally, Congress through its Transportation & Infrastructure Committee is targeting rollovers. T&I included language in recent legislation requiring DOT to report what it is doing to prevent rollovers. This is the same committee that wrote the draconian wetlines legislation that stimulated the wetlines ban regulations we expect from DOT later this year.

On yet another front, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) will soon make positive use of $200,000 of your tax dollars to study the Role of Human Factors in Preventing Cargo Tank Rollovers. NTTC chaired the TRB committee that wrote the project and will be involved in selecting the contractor. Lest we forget, the Battelle Cargo Tank Rollover Report found that three-quarters of cargo tank rollovers were the result of a driver action.

So, Moe, I hope I have given you a few things to remind your drivers about the need to eliminate rollovers. No change to equipment or road design can match the impact of a tanker driver in meeting this challenge. The driver is the most important weapon we have in the war against rollovers. Thanks for being a member of NTTC.

Conley is president of National Tank Truck Carriers Inc.

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