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Seeking the root cause of tank rollovers

Cargo tank rollovers can present a serious hazard to other motorists on Georgia roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has looked at the matter and compiled statistics that some may find surprising.

It is found that truck rollovers are more often the result of a series of problems than any one single issue. Weather does not seem to be a factor. More than 90 percent of all rollovers occur when the road is dry. Visibility does not seem to matter, as more rollovers happen during the day than at night. The quality of the road is not a factor, as more rollovers happen on straightaways than every other road structure combined. Even experience does not seem to be a determining factor, as veteran drivers are as likely to encounter a rollover as neophytes.

The most plausible causes may be poor maintenance and loading. Researchers found that more than half of all trucks that roll over have problems in their braking system. However, possibly the most interesting finding was that nearly two rollovers out of three happen to cargo tanks carrying liquid loads that are left partially empty. The effect of the weight of the liquid sloshing around may be a major contributing factor to rollover accidents.

A cargo tank accident that causes an injury to another should be examined to see if any party involved, from the trucker to the owner of the vehicle, failed in their duties to perform timely maintenance and operate the vehicle safely. Multiple parties may share liability for an accident, and an attorney representing an injured victim can look at the accident investigation report and other evidence such as maintenance records when attempting to establish negligence.

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

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