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Video tool for preventing rollovers

Aug. 4, 2010
“Cargo tank rollovers are among the most serious types of large truck crashes, often resulting in fatalities and serious highway infrastructure damage. Yet rollovers can be prevented and driver safety is the key. This video is a tool to encourage tank ...

Cargo tank rollovers are among the most serious types of large truck crashes, often resulting in fatalities and serious highway infrastructure damage. Yet rollovers can be prevented and driver safety is the key. This video is a tool to encourage tank drivers to become more safety-conscious.” –Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

Rollovers are some of the most frightening – and deadly – types of tractor-trailer accidents, roughly responsible for about 60% of all truck driver deaths on a yearly basis.

Nothing quite equals the gut-wrenching feeling when the cab starts its fatal tilt, either. I know because I’ve ridden shotgun in anti-rollover technology testing. Even though these test trucks came equipped with big “outriggers” to prevent the final death flop, the sheer panic created by the near-rollover sensation isn’t a memory I relish.

The scary part about rollovers is that high speed isn’t necessarily a major factor. You can be going quite slow and still roll a big rig based on the angle of the turn and the weight of the load.

[Click on the video below to see what I mean. And FYI, this by-now famous clip of a big rig rollover at 35 mph on a test track was NOT a planned event. It happened literally by accident, taking everyone by surprise.]

So to try and help prevent rollovers from occurring, the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), American Trucking Associations (ATA), and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) joined forces to produce a new “visual” training tool: the Cargo Tank Driver Rollover Prevention Video.

Tankers are at higher risk of rollovers because the liquids they haul shift unpredictably, creating load imbalances that make a tractor-trailer more susceptible to tipping over. “Although rollovers are rare, we recognize that they can be serious,” noted John Conley, NTTC’s president. “This outreach video is part of our proactive commitment to work with the government or anyone else in improving truck safety and minimizing the risk of such incidents.”

The video (seen below) features several experienced tank truck drivers educating other drivers about the contributing factors of rollovers and steps drivers can take to prevent future incidents. Research shows that driver action plays a role in the majority of rollovers, so properly educating drivers has the potential to reduce the occurrence of those incidents.

Cynthia Quarterman, head of the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), added that tanker rollovers account for 31% of large truck rollover crashes. Also, in 75% of those crashes, unsafe driver behaviors such as inattention or excessive speeding are the primary cause.

She said that’s why the video’s main focus is on driver behavior – because, in many ways, a safe journey depends on the actions of the driver.

Yet Quarterman noted that it also incorporates a variety of camera angles, detailed graphics and driver interviews focus on three other critical areas, aside from driver behavior, that affect the potential for a rollover: vehicle design, cargo load, and highway factors, such as the sharpness of roadway curves.

The important thing, though, is that this video provides yet another training tool for drivers – one that will help them “see” the dangers that contribute to rollovers, improving their decision-making behind the wheel.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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