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Fatal Accident Underscores the Danger of Tankers

A recent Austin tanker accident killed the truck's driver and resulted in over $500,000 worth of damage to the MoPac flyover. The driver of the tanker truck was killed in the fire caused after the truck had rolled over in its side. Law enforcement officials believe that speed may have been a factor in the truck accident. Similar crashes have caused many experts to examine tanker safety in an effort to determine how to cut down on the number of accidents occurring each year.

Tankers present many dangers to fellow motorists. Like other 18 wheelers, they are much larger than passenger cars, and an accident on an interstate or other major highway can cause serious injury or death. Most of the time tankers are also hauling hazardous or explosive materials, and any accident could potentially result in a fire or chemical spill that can cause additional damage or injury. For those focused on accident prevention, much of the attention has been placed on rollover-type accidents.

Evaluating Ways to Reduce Tanker Truck Accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) states that there are over 100,000 loads hauled on tanker trucks daily. Most of these trucks make it safely to their destination without any issues. However, NTSB numbers also show that there are over 1200 tanker rollovers every year. Cutting down on this number has been a goal for both truck companies and government officials.

Finding a way to reduce these types of accidents has proved challenging. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lists four main causes of rollovers: vehicle design and performance, load effects, highway factors and driver errors. Of these categories, the majority of rollovers are the result of some type of driver error. In fact, rollovers are ten times more likely to be caused by the driver than by any other issue.

To help tanker truck drivers, the NTSB is studying the potential safety impact of electronic stability systems. These systems would be able to detect when the weight of the load is shifting. The systems would then adjust the vehicle accordingly, using the truck's braking systems to allow the weight to redistribute.

Many tankers already have this technology, making it uncertain if widespread implementation would actually reduce the number of rollovers that occur.

Related Resource: News 8 Austin "Police ID Tanker Driver in Fatal Flyover Crash"

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