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Why tank trucks roll so easily

The contents of that tanker truck beside you on the California highway may be dangerous chemical gases, oil, gasoline or even just milk. Although its contents may make a difference in how dangerous an accident could be, it is the tank itself that poses the higher risk of an accident occurring in the first place. We at E & E Law Group understand that truckers who haul cargo tank trucks must take extra precautions to prevent rollovers.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately four tank truck drivers roll their vehicles every day. Most of these are preventable because the primary factors that lead to the accidents are the same ones that you and other drivers may also experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Distraction
  • Poor driving conditions
  • Darkness
  • Speeding

Any of these may be dangerous for you in your passenger vehicle, but tanker trucks are noted for their instability. In particular, a partial load creates an effect known as "slosh and surge." The liquid in the tanker shifts when the vehicle is turning, and if the truck goes around the curve or the corner too quickly, the extra weight pulls the tank over. This is not just something that happens to new drivers unused to the skills needed for this type of vehicle. In fact, 66 percent of the crashes in one study involved drivers who had spent a decade or more behind the wheel of cargo tank trucks.

A maintenance issue on your vehicle could cause a crash, but the hazards can be much greater for drivers of tanker trucks. This is why they are required to check their trucks and tanks for issues before each day's drive. Defective brakes were a factor in 54 percent of the rollover crashes in one study. 

More information about truck crashes is available on our webpage.

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