NTSB Proposes New Guidelines to Prevent Tanker Trailer Rollover Accidents
While any big-rig accident can be extremely dangerous given the massive weight and size of the vehicles, a rollover accident involving a tanker trailer loaded with hazardous or explosive materials can lead to catastrophic results. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that measures be taken to reduce the risk of tanker trailer rollover accidents including mandating implementation of stability control systems and rollover prevention programs to prevent these potentially catastrophic trucking accidents.
The recommendations are the result of a NTSB investigation into a 2009 tanker trailer accident involving a rig that was carrying 9,001 gallons of liquefied petroleum gas. The tanker trailer was involved in a rollover accident that caused the petroleum gas to escape and ignite. The NTSB investigation revealed that when the driver of the tanker trailer was negotiating a curve the vehicle encroached on an adjacent lane that was occupied by another vehicle. When the truck driver realized that the lane was occupied, the driver steered hard and overcompensated in the opposite direction. This caused the tanker truck to veer and when the driver tried to recover it caused the vehicle to rollover.
The NTSB investigation found that loaded cargo tanker trailers provide minimal margin for operator error, and that the training received by the truck driver was not sufficient to adequately reduce the risk of rollover accidents. This type of accident can lead to devastating consequences including the release of explosive or hazardous materials that not only endanger those directly involved in the tanker trailer rollover accident, but those in the vicinity that may be harmed by the release of the hazardous substance.
It is tempting to assume that the possibility of this type of accident is so remote that it seems hyper-vigilant to worry about such a trucking collision. However, NTSB Chairman Doborah Hersman indicates that "the NTSB has been concerned about the integrity of cargo tanks carrying hazardous materials for more than 40 years." Hersman also indicates that there are approximately 1,300 tanker trailer rollover accidents per year in the U.S.
While the NTSB has no power to directly enact regulations, it has proposed that these measures be implemented to avoid potentially fatal tanker trailer rollover accidents. The NTSB has made recommendations to 20 other regulatory agencies including implementation of a comprehensive rollover prevention program and imposing requirements that all in-use cargo tanker trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds be equipped with a rollover stability control system.
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