As highly experienced Miami truck crash attorneys we have seen numerous cases involving cargo tankers rolling over. Cargo tank rollover accidents occur for various reasons. The main cause, however, is driver error. The federal agency called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees the safe transport of liquids and other materials in cargo tanks. The FMCSA gathered statistics about cargo tank rollover accidents. The agency endeavors to synthesize the information it gathers to help develop additional safety measures for cargo tankers and other large truck transports.
The FMCSA developed statistics by analyzing crashes. Their work has yielded some interesting results. Their statistics debunked apparent misconceptions commonly held by the motoring public. Most people believe that rollover accidents are most likely to happen at night or on wet surfaces, on or curves. The statistics prove otherwise. The FMCSA statistical analysis shows that 56% of rollovers happened on a straightaway. Furthermore, 2/3s of all rollovers happen during the day and not at night as commonly believed. What is more surprising is that 93% of all rollover accidents happen on a dry surface. Thus, road conditions do not figure greatly into rollover accident causes.
Another commonly-held belief regarding cargo tanker accidents is careless driving. The statistics show that there may be other reasons in play besides driver carelessness or speeding. The FMCSA attributes excessive speed to only 28% of rollover accidents. Evasive maneuvers account for 5-10% of rollover crashes. The FMCSA did not confront the actual question of whether drivers are careless and lose control. Making an evasive maneuver is not the equivalent of careless driving because an evasive maneuver implies that the driver made the move to avoid a crash rather than losing control over his vehicle.
Driving experience, or lack thereof, is not a predictable cause of a rollover accident. Experienced drivers usually have the skill and ability to avoid crashes. However, 38% of rollover accidents involve drivers with ten or more years of driving experience. The statistics show that drivers between 25 to 55 years of age are most likely to be involved in a rollover.
The FMCSA determined several factors cause rollovers in addition to those previously mentioned. Driver error most frequently causes rollover crashes. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of all accidents happened because of driver error. The statistics prove that another event precedes the rollover 90% of the time. The initiating event is usually driver error. The FMCSA noted preceding events as drivers falling asleep at the wheel or inattentiveness. The FMCSA indicates that 20% of rollover crashes are caused by driver inattentiveness. The lack of attention or drowsiness causes drifting. The drifting leads to cargo tankers traveling to the soft shoulder of the road, striking a curb, or making a mistake while turning. These preceding events cause the load to shift and the vehicle to flip. The FMCSA argues that drivers increasing attentiveness will reduce rollover accidents caused when losing control of the load.
The FMCSA analysis demonstrates two additional causes for cargo tanker rollover accidents. Vehicle disrepair contributes to crashes, especially faulty or defective brakes. Load size is a vital contributor to rollover accidents. Carrying liquid at less than capacity causes a phenomenon known as "slosh and surge." The sloshing liquid causes weight shift leading to loss of control over the cargo truck.