Driving a standard semi truck requires a great deal of skill, much more so than driving a smaller and lighter passenger vehicle. Operation of a tanker tractor trailer requires even greater skill as they are some of the most difficult trucks to handle on the road today. Avoiding tractor trailer accidents with tanker trucks requires a high level of training and experience as well as a special license endorsement confirming this experience. In addition, truck crash lawyers know that careful operation of these unstable vehicles also means understanding a bit about physics.
Tanker Trucks and Trucking Accidents
Of the different types of semi truck combinations on the roads today, none are more unstable or likely to be involved in tractor trailer accidents than tankers. These combination vehicles consist of a tractor part that pulls a trailer with a large tank for hauling liquid loads. Since it is not possible to completely stabilize liquid cargo to prevent movement inside the tanker, these vehicles are prone to balance issues that can ultimately result in rollovers and other types of accidents. As a resi;t, truck crash lawyers say that a high percentage of dangerous rollover accidents involve tankers.
The Physics - and Dangers - of Liquid Loads
Due to its chemical makeup and consistency, liquid is always in motion. When liquids are stored in a tank and that tank is also in motion, even more motion is created. Liquids gain momentum as they slosh around inside the confines of the tank, moving with it and continuing on, splashing inside the container and flowing toward the pull of gravity.
Based on this natural movement, tankers filled with liquid can quickly become unbalanced or out of control due to the momentum the liquid expresses on the tank itself. For example, when a truck negotiates a curve, gravity is always acting on that vehicle, causing it to lean toward the outside of the curve. This happens with any loaded trailer, which is why poor handling on curves is another common cause of tractor trailer accidents.
Yet when that leaning load is in the form of a liquid, it can lean even more and then violently slosh back the other way, further unbalancing the truck. This effect can occur around curves, while traveling up or downhill, or even on a straight and flat road depending upon braking and acceleration. Liquid cargo can cause very dangerous driving conditions.
Keep Tankers Safe By Understanding Their Behavior
Considering the significant dangers present when operating tanker trucks, truck crash lawyers suggest that keeping these vehicles safe demands not only a high level of driver training and experience, but also an understanding of the physics involved. Operators who drive tankers must be aware of how their actions can affect liquid loads, causing either more or less movement as a result.
They must also understand the best methods for safely transporting these loads, including keeping the tank as full as possible, driving at lower speeds, paying attention to tire condition and pressure, and avoiding situations that require heavy use of the brakes or gas pedal. By understanding how the load will react during truck maneuvering, skilled drivers can keep their loads still and level, then think ahead to avoid situations that could unbalance the entire rig.
There is no doubt that among all the semi trucks on the highways today, none have the potential to be more dangerous and involved in more serious tractor trailer accidents than the tankers. Careful operation of these vehicles requires more than just knowing how to drive a combination truck. It means knowing how physics apply to liquid loads and a common sense understanding of how to handle the vehicle to reduce such effects. Truck crash lawyers encourage all tanker companies to hire experienced drivers and provide the training necessary to keep tanker rollovers at an absolute minimum!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190