Tanker rollovers are some of the more dangerous crashes that truck accident lawyers see today that cause incredible amounts of damage and frequently result in serious and fatal injuries.
They are not that uncommon as tankers transporting liquid cargo are much more likely to roll over than any other type of truck.
Since tankers are especially susceptible to the effects of gravity and the motion of liquid inside them, it is the responsibility of the operators to be well trained on how to handle their tanker and practice safe techniques to lessen the possibility of a rollover.
Big rig accident lawyers have unfortunately found that not all methods are available for every type of tanker truck currently on every thoroughfare.
Liquid Loads and Rollover Accidents
Every year, as many as 1,300 tanker rollover accidents occur on our nation's roads and highways.1
Truck accident attorneys point out that weather, speeding, or driver inexperience do not cause many of these accidents; instead, driver error in handling these challenging loads are a more common causation factor.
When tankers become unbalanced due to sloshing or the back-and-forth movement of liquid cargo within the tanks, the risk of rolling over increases exponentially.
These conditions are even more likely to occur with tankers that are only partially-full.
What Can Reduce Sloshing?
As with the safe handling of any other load, it is the driver’s responsibility to know how to operate a tanker truck correctly and reduce sloshing.
One way is to always travel with a full tank as that limits the empty space within the tank that allows liquids to slosh around and unbalance the tank.
Since it’s not always possible to have a full tanker, truck accident lawyers stress the need for operators to employ other known methods to control slosh and make tankers safer to drive.
Good training on handling liquid loads, meticulous driving to reduce slosh, and the use of built-in bulkheads and/or baffles in the tanks are all a must
Designed specifically to limit tank slosh and make tanker trucks safer to drive, bulkheads are solid walls within the tank that divide it into multiple smaller compartments.
What About Baffles?
Baffles are bulkheads that have some holes in them to allow liquids to flow through the whole tank to prevent dangerous sloshing.
Without these safeguards in place, even slight driver errors can result in an unbalancing that can roll the tank over onto its side; however, it's important to note that not all tanks can use bulkheads and baffles.
The only tanks that can use baffles are those carrying liquids like chemicals and water not designated for consumption.
Tanks that carry food products like milk must be smooth-bore or wide open because it’s considerably harder to clean the inside of a tank with baffles or bulkheads.
So it’s even more critical that drivers of smooth-bore trucks are properly trained in how to control slosh.
The Value of Training and Well-Equipped Tankers
Driving a tanker truck is a challenging job that requires great skill.
Big rig accident lawyers agree that when truck drivers are not properly trained to handle these dangerous loads or do not use available safety features, the chance of dangerous rollover accidents increases.
Whether due to driver error or failure to use the right equipment, truck accident attorneys may find some degree of negligence to blame for these costly, yet preventable accidents!
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Cargo Tank Rollover, Keep the Load on the Road: A Driver's Guide to Cargo Tank Truck Rollover Prevention, Myths and Truths, 2008