Cargo tank rollovers and their causes

Cargo tanks carrying petroleum products or other hazardous cargo are a familiar sight to Louisiana motorists. Statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and based upon 2007 accident data are meant to both warn the general public of the risks that are involved when one of these trucks rolls over as well as to provide some guidance in avoiding these types of accidents.

The statistics contradict the popular ideas that rollover accidents are caused by inclement weather conditions or difficult roads. During the period studied, more than 50 percent of these rollover accidents happened on straight sections of the road. The majority took place during daylight hours, and most of them occurred when the road is clear and dry.

There were three different factors that appeared to be common. Although driver error appeared to be attributable for many of the rollovers, these mistakes almost always occurred at the end of a sequence of events that may well have been outside the driver's control. Issues with the brakes have also been found in as many as half of all rollovers. Cargo tanks with partial loads also seem to be particularly vulnerable to these accidents, as the uneven distribution of weight can be a cause of making a truck sway and drift.

Those who have been injured in a truck accident often face high medical bills, long periods of recovery and additional financial stress due to the loss of a paycheck. A personal injury attorney might help someone in this situation by reviewing police accident investigation reports as well as the truck's maintenance records in order to determine whether negligence on the part of the driver or the trucking company itself was negligent.

Source: FMCSA, "Cargo Tank Rollover", July 21, 2015

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