Sudden maneuvers and high speed collisions can result in fatal rollover accidents.

Roadway obstacles can lead to tripped rollovers

Making sudden maneuvers or over-steering at high speeds in a tractor-trailer or large commercial vehicle can easily result in a rollover. Likewise, colliding with an object or obstacle while driving can do the same. This type of rollover accident is classified as a tripped rollover.

Case study:

A truck driver hauling 10,800 gallons of gasoline on a mountainous two-lane highway was surrounded by a vertical rock wall on one side and railroad tracks and a river on the other.

Halfway through a 500-mile round trip, the driver collided with fallen rocks in his lane. The force of the impact blew out the left-front tire and the driver lost control.

Unable to regain control, the truck and tanker rolled over into a ditch that separated the roadway from the tracks. Upon impact, the gasoline cargo ignited and the unit burst into flames—killing the driver instantly and causing a hazardous material spill.

Because of close proximity to the river, floating containment booms were set up to manage the spill if it reached the water. Fortunately, the spill didn't make it that far.

It’s been four years since the accident, and clean-up continues. Monitoring wells installed at the spill site still show benzene levels above the acceptable threshold, and remediation chemicals are still being injected to break down gasoline residue.

So far, the clean-up has exceeded $1 million.

Contributing factors to roadway dangers

  • Exploding tires are the primary cause of losing control and resulting rollovers
  • Driving too fast for conditions make it difficult to stop or respond quickly
  • Driving in a mountainous area with risk of falling rocks and other debris
  • Lack of roll stability systems

Risk Management recommendations for safer driving

  • Educate drivers on how to react to tire blowout: don't slam on the brakes, keep a firm grip of the steering wheel and accelerate slightly to take weight off the flat tire. Allow the vehicle to slow down gradually and gently to a controlled stop.
  • Limit trips to not exceed the hours of service regulations. Road types, load size, traffic conditions and the mandatory 30-minute rest break within the first 8 hours must be factored into the calculation.
  • Never overdrive headlights. If stopping distance is farther than drivers can see with their headlights, they're going too fast.
  • Install a roll stability system to help prevent rollover from sudden steering wheel movements.

Learn other important tractor-trailer rollover prevention tips.

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