Every year, more than 1,300 commercial cargo tank rollovers occur, killing dozens of truck drivers and other motorists and spilling hazardous materials. But because nearly 80 percent of these accidents are the result of driver error, federal safety regulators are working with the commercial trucking industry to develop training tools that could help drive down the number of tanker rollovers.
Most commercial drivers would say that driving too fast for road and weather conditions causes commercial tank rollovers. While that is true, about 28 percent of the time, there are several other reasons why truck drivers lose control of their vehicle.
According to a 17-minute training video produced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in cooperation with industry partners, 93 percent of cargo tank rollovers occur on dry road surfaces.
Just as surprisingly, a recent study conducted for the U. S. Department of Transportation found that just 7 percent of cargo tank rollovers occur on exit ramps. Eight times as many rollovers occur on straight roadways, often when a driver “over-corrects” after dropping a wheel off the road surface, or becoming distracted.
The FMCSA’s Cargo Tank Truck Rollover Prevention video features many drivers who found themselves suddenly struggling for control of their vehicle, knowing that a rollover meant, in the words of one driver, “possible death, burning up.”
According to the FMCSA, inexperience is not a main factor in these rollovers. In fact, 66 percent of cargo tank rollovers involve drivers with more than 10 years of driving experience. Moreover, more tanker truck rollovers occur on straight roads (56 percent) than on curves (44 percent), including on ramps.
“[More than] 78 percent of rollovers involve driver error. As a driver, YOU are the key component for preventing rollovers,” the FMCSA says, urging all drivers licensed to haul hazardous materials to watch the safety training video.