Tanker trucks carry liquid loads on the roadways of Virginia and across the United States. As you may expect, cargo is often hazardous chemicals, such as gasoline, which, in a crash, could lead to fires, explosions and other catastrophes. With these additional dangers, safe transport becomes even more important. Unfortunately, this type of truck has additional stability factors that make a crash more likely.

AIG notes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 1,300 tanker truck rollover accidents each year, compared to 500 large truck rollovers. More than 60 percent of the 1,300 crashes cause fatal injuries. There are a number of elements that may contribute to these rollovers.

Truck operators

While there are many ways that a trucker may make mistakes that cause a rollover, you may be surprised to learn that only a third of the accidents involve drivers with fewer than 10 years of experience. More experienced drivers are involved in the majority of the crashes. Distractions, fatigue and speeding are common contributors to the mistakes that cause rollovers. Drivers should be alert and ready to adjust their driving techniques based on these and other rollover risk factors:

  • Inclement weather
  • Work zone hazards such as loose gravel or uneven roads
  • Steep grades
  • Traffic conditions

Tanker instability

When a tanker is only partially full, the load shifts with the movement of the truck. Already, the high center of gravity of the truck increases the risk of a rollover, but when the load quickly sloshes to one side or the other, it creates an even greater likelihood of rolling. Dramatic load shifts may be caused by sudden movements, such as if the trucker slams on the brakes, takes a turn too quickly or loses traction due to excess speed on poor road conditions.

Truck system failures

Although you may have your vehicle serviced on a monthly and yearly schedule, truckers should inspect their vehicles before they begin each day’s drive. If the brakes, suspension or tires have any issues on the trip, it could easily cause a rollover crash.