Rollovers involving big rigs are oftentimes fatal, not only to the driver of the truck but occupants of other vehicles as well. Many of the factors associated with rollover truck accidents are preventable. Read below to learn more about four factors that might be associated with these accidents.
Load and Cargo Factors Involved in a Truck Rollover Accident
Cargo tank trailers have a unique risk of rollover because of their design. They have a high center of gravity, which makes them less stable. The center of gravity shifts when the liquid in the tank moves sideways. When this occurs too strongly and too suddenly, the truck can roll.
The liquid can also flow forward, such as when the driver hits the brakes abruptly. This too can cause a rollover. If the liquid in the tank is flammable – such as gasoline – there is the added danger of a fire or explosion.
But an even greater hazard is when a cargo tank is partially loaded because there's more room for the liquid to shift and change the center of gravity. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that over 94 percent of rollovers involve trucks with partial loads.
Liquid loads aren't the only type of cargo that can create difficulties for the driver. If the driver fails to account for the load’s height or weight, it can pose a similar risk because of the higher center of gravity. An overloaded truck can also create a dangerous scenario that may increase the risk of a rollover. Loads that aren't properly balanced or secured can also cause a rollover.
Truck Maintenance Factors Involved in a Truck Rollover Accident
Drivers should always perform a pre-trip inspection to make sure it's safe to operate the truck, looking at:
- brake performance;
- issues with suspension; and
- tire pressure.
For instance, low tire pressure is one issue that can contribute to the risk of a rollover. Failure to perform a pre-trip inspection and maintain the vehicle could increase risk.
Highway Factors Involved in a Truck Rollover Accident
Road and highway conditions can factor into a rollover too, they're more likely to occur:
- on steep downhill roads;
- when taking sharp curves;
- when a wheel hits a curb; and
- on soft shoulders.
Drivers should be able to identify and if possible, avoid these high risk areas. At a minimum, the driver should proceed with caution.
Driver Factors Involved in a Truck Rollover Accident
If not a sole reason for a rollover, truck drivers’ actions may also contribute to them. One of the common factors is speeding, whether it's going too fast for road conditions or exceeding the posted speed limit. It's especially dangerous when taking a curve, such as an on- or off-ramp.
Distractions behind the wheel could also contribute to an accident, truckers aren’t immune to the temptations of:
- taking a call;
- eating; or
- daydreaming while driving.
Driving under the influence is yet another dangerous factor, whether related to impairment caused by alcohol or drugs and even certain types of prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Fatigue is a unique threat for truck drivers as well. Drivers who violate federal trucking hours-of-service regulations could become tired behind the wheel. This can cause them to drift from the lane or even fall asleep at the wheel, posing the risk of a rollover.
Over-steering (or over-correcting) can cause a rollover too. This may happen when a driver drifts off a paved roadway and attempts to get the truck back on the pavement.
Many of these factors are preventable. It's important to learn if any contributed to a rollover crash, as that will help establish the driver's liability, and by extension the trucking company’s liability. For help determining fault in your crash, contact an attorney at the Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg. Call us at 304-931-4088 or use our online contact form.