A truck driver hauling two tanker trailers full of diesel fuel lost control of his truck on I-84 near Hood River, Oregon, Friday afternoon after experiencing an apparent equipment failure on one of the trailers.
Oregon State Police said Eric D. Christiansen, 58, of Vancouver, Washington, jumped from the truck just before it and the diesel-laden tankers toppled over and rolled down an embankment. The truck and its trailers initially came to a stop, partially dangling from a guardrail on the right shoulder of the road, giving Mr. Christiansen time to climb out before the vehicles rolled.
Fortunately, the trailers did not catch fire and only the front trailer leaked a small amount of fuel because the hole was ripped above the tank’s fuel line. Personnel from the Oregon Department of Transportation remained on the scene monitoring the tankers containing 9,000-10,000 gallons of diesel until cleanup efforts could begin. The company that owned the trucks worked to offload the fuel from the tankers over the weekend.
Equipment failure on heavy trucks is a common cause of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, and the reason for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) decision to increase the importance of vehicle maintenance issues in its new CSA 2010 inspection program. Commercial carriers and individual drivers now can receive points on their record for seemingly minor maintenance issues, but those little defects sometimes lead to big disasters.
According to the FMCSA, every day 800,000 trucks haul hazardous materials on our state and federal highways. Two hundred hazmat trucks are involved in fatal crashes every year and another 5,000 are involved in nonfatal crashes.