Written by DMC Risk Engineering Team
April 29, 2020
Key Cargo Tank Rollover (CTR) Facts
of CTRs involve driver error
of CTRs occur on straight roads
occur on dry roads
years of driver experience in the majority of CTRs
occur in daylight
of rollovers occur from partial loads
54% of cargo tank rollovers involve some type of brake defect.
A Truck Driver’s Internal Conditions and Chosen Distractions Contribute to Rollovers
We all know that distractions decrease our attention when we drive our own cars. The same distractions contribute to the cargo tank rollovers of commercial vehicles, but with even greater potential for damage. And it’s not just driver responses to external distractions that factor into a rollover. Exclusively internal conditions – like inattentiveness, fatigue and even complacency – also play a big role.
Some distractions have existed since the beginning. For example, we often feel compelled to pick up things that have fallen onto the floorboard, thinking it will not interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle. But is it really necessary to reach over and try to grab that Thermos of coffee while driving, instead of waiting for a place to stop and pick it up safely?
The object that has fallen onto the floorboard is at least a sudden event that we might feel demands our immediate attention. Unfortunately, the majority of distractions that we now contend with are things that we choose to let distract us.
The newest distractions are interactive. Everywhere, the paper map is replaced with the smartphone’s talking, GPS-enabled map. In any traffic jam, and even in moving traffic, drivers can be observed texting.
The reality is that more distractions are constantly offered to the driver. Only the driver can choose to ignore them and do what brings him to the road – drive.
Situations that may cause sudden reactions include running off the side of the road, moving over into another lane,
or driving too close to another vehicle. They may cause a driver to immediately turn away from danger to avoid an accident or go into a ditch. A sudden lateral movement of a cargo tank causes the liquid inside the tank to slosh and the vehicle to roll.
Overcorrecting is a common mistake that can lead to rollovers. If you run off the side of the road, try to slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator and keep the vehicle straight and under control. Even if you do this, soft roadside conditions may still cause the liquid to slosh and roll the vehicle. The best course of action is always to keep the vehicle on the roadway by focusing on driving.
“Training should be in-depth, documented, and long enough for the inexperienced driver to gain confidence behind the wheel that corresponds to the type of liquid or bulk material being hauled. DMC will work with any of its insureds to develop a driver training program if requested.”
Ramps - Intersections - Curves - Corners
A safe speed sometimes is not what’s indicated by the posted speed limit, and that’s why maintaining a speed that’s proper for the road and traffic conditions is essential. For example, entrance and exit ramps are mainly designed for passenger vehicles in dry conditions. Larger trucks and especially trucks with liquid cargo tanks should negotiate these ramps at a speed much slower than the posted speed limit. Take the same caution when approaching intersections, corners, and curves. FMCSA – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – identifies speed as a major contributor to cargo tank rollovers. Always maintain the proper speed to avoid situations that could call for a sudden move or cause your vehicle to turn over.
Baffles and Compartments
Cargo tanks such as those that may haul gasoline, diesel, kerosene, or other types of fuel may have separate compartments. Anhydrous ammonia and propane cargo tanks usually have baffles to inhibit product movement or sloshing. Sanitary considerations prevent the use of baffles for cargo tanks used to transport food products.
The characteristics of these different cargo tanks play a part in how the vehicle handles and should be handled. Cargo tanks without baffles or compartments are much easier to roll and this fact should be considered when turning and stopping. Even those with baffles and separate compartments do not offer insurance against a rollover. A substantial shift in any load’s center of gravity can cause the vehicle to tip. In any year, roughly 60% of rollover crashes occur with cargo tanks carrying partial loads that, when the vehicle is abruptly turned, develop a “slosh and surge” effect that causes the vehicle to tip and rollover.
Truck Driver Experience
Does driver experience matter? Sure it does. Experience and training are necessary for any new driver or for any experienced driver working for a new company. That being said, experienced drivers should not get too comfortable. FMCSA reports that the majority of cargo tank rollovers involve drivers with ten or more years of experience. So don’t let the, “I’ve done this a long time and I know what I am doing syndrome,” cause your guard to come down. You’re only as good as the last drive you finished safely.
Drivers who have not driven cargo tanks with liquid products are at a higher risk of rollovers. Even though a driver may have previous experience, driving for a new company with a different type of vehicle can increase the risk of rollovers as well. Newly hired drivers should not drive a cargo tank vehicle until properly trained and comfortable with the operation of the vehicle.
Training should be in-depth, documented, and long enough for the inexperienced driver to gain confidence behind the wheel that corresponds to the type of liquid or bulk material being hauled.
Online Training Resources
Cargo tank rollover videos have been developed that help with driver orientation and refresher training programs. One, developed by the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC), relates to propane bobtails and the other, developed by the FMSCA, addresses the operation of refined fuel tanker transport units. A fact sheet accompanies it. Please utilize these training resources by accessing the links below:
To learn more about developing a driver training program or ways DMC’s Risk Engineering team can help better safety within your operation, contact us today!
DMC Insurance is a subsidiary of Crum & Forster. This material is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be a representation of coverage that may exist in any particular situation under a policy issued by one of the companies within Crum & Forster. All conditions of coverage, terms, and limitations are defined and provided for in the policy. This material was developed as a general guide to safety from sources believed to be reliable and is not intended to provide legal, technical or other professional advice. These materials are not intended to replace any training or education that users may wish or need to provide to their personnel. Crum & Forster does not endorse any of the vendors listed in this publication, nor does it endorse the information, products or services that they offer or provide. Compliance with all Federal, State or local laws and regulations remain the policyholder’s responsibility.
Commercial transportation is becoming an increasingly expensive industry to insure. Claims frequency is increasing due to an influx of new drivers, deteriorated infrastructure, more distracted driving, and additional vehicle miles traveled. Claim severity is growing...
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