Tanker Truck Accidents
Tanker trucks are large vehicles typically used to transport liquid loads or gases along roadways. Similar to other large commercial trucks, the weight and size of the truck and its cargo contributes to the severity of a truck accident. Depending on the type of load the tanker is carrying, these vehicles may be significantly more dangerous than other commercial trucks. Tanker trucks often transport hazardous materials, including gasoline, propane, oil, and other toxic materials. There are various types of tanker trucks designed to accommodate their intended purpose.
Types of Tankers
Some tanker trucks are designed as a single unit. Others consist of a separate truck hauling a tanker trailer. Both types are very common. Typically, single unit tankers transport propane, septic sludge, milk, and hazardous liquids. Tanker trailers are specifically designed to transport gasoline.
The Department of Transportation requires tankers to have appropriate signage indicating the type of cargo. Classifications of the various types of cargo include:
- Class 1 Explosives;
- Class 2 Gases;
- Class 3 Flammable Liquid;
- Class 4 Flammable Solid, Spontaneously Combustible, and Dangerous When Wet;
- Class 5 Oxidizer, Organic Peroxide;
- Class 6 Poison (Toxic), Poison Inhalation Hazard, Infectious Substance;
- Class 7 Radioactive;
- Class 8 Corrosive; and
- Class 9 Miscellaneous Hazardous Material.
After a tanker truck accident, hazardous materials may contaminate a large area. Individuals in the surrounding area may suffer injuries from contamination in addition to those sustained in the crash.
Large Truck Accident Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), tanker trucks were involved in 3,505 crashes causing injury throughout the United States. In addition, tanker trucks were involved in 372 crashes resulting in fatalities. In 2017, tanker trucks accounted for 6.2 percent of all large truck accidents causing injury and 8 percent of those causing fatality.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that fatalities in large truck accidents increased by 26 percent from 2015 to 2017. However, the fatality rate remained fairly consistent between 2012 and 2015. The increase may be attributed to an increase in the number of large trucks transporting loads and the distance loads were transported. According to the CDC, in Texas 129 large truck fatalities took place in one year—more than double the rate in California.
Avoiding Tanker Truck Accidents
As with other large trucks, tanker trucks have huge blind spots. Many people mistakenly believe that because truck drivers sit higher than passenger vehicles that truck drivers can see more. Truck drivers can see a long distance in front of them. However, their view of the immediate 20 feet in front of the vehicle is obstructed.
To accommodate for this blind spot, truck drivers keep several car lengths between their truck and the vehicles in front of them. The driver is not leaving a space for other drivers. Merging closely in front of the truck may cause the truck driver to suddenly slow down. Truck drivers’ inability to see you may cause an accident.
Additionally, there are significant blind spots on the left and right sides of tanker trucks. The left-side blind spot begins under the driver’s door mirror and extends across one lane. The right-side blind spot begins under the passenger’s door mirror and extends across two lanes. Similar to the poor visibility in the front, the driver’s view is obstructed for 30 feet behind the truck. If you follow closer than 30 feet behind a tanker truck, the driver cannot see you.
To ensure your own safety on the road, be sure to avoid a truck’s blind spots. Even if you are visible to the driver, it’s better to keep a safe distance. Commercial truckloads can potentially shift or fall off, which often causes severe or life-threatening injuries.
Loads can easily shift if a security strap breaks or conditions cause strong winds. In many cases, loads fall off a flatbed or out of the rear of a box trailer. Tanker trucks, on the other hand, may experience a shift in the weight of their load causing the truck to roll over on its side. Leaving large cargo trucks plenty of space on the roadways will significantly decrease the risks of accidents.
Tanker Truck Injuries
Common to all motor vehicle injuries, truck accidents may cause bruises, scrapes, contusions, back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries and broken bones. A spill from a tanker may cause additional injuries including:
- Chemical burns;
- Radiation poisoning;
- Burns from flammable and explosive contents in the tanks; and
- Illnesses caused by some of the liquids, including e. Coli and other bacterial illnesses, depending on the contents of the tank.
In many cases, exposure to hazardous materials cause injuries that may take longer to heal and are often life-threatening. Even minimal contact with some hazardous materials can cause serious illness requiring extensive medical treatment. The extent of your injury may depend on the amount of contamination you are exposed to.
If you are exposed to hazardous materials after an accident involving a tanker truck cargo, seek immediate medical attention. If the liquid or gas causes long-term injuries, contact a tanker truck injury lawyer to help you with your claim. If the accident was the trucker’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses, including physical, cognitive, and psychological therapy.
- Past and future lost wages to account for the time you are unable to work due to your injuries.
- Replacement or repair of personal property, including damage to your vehicle.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium and/or loss of companionship.
- Inconvenience—the defendant might have to pay for hired help to accommodate decreased mobility resulting from your injuries. For example, lawn care services, home maintenance, or grocery shopping.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
If you suffered injuries from a tanker truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you navigate your personal injury claim.