On January 7, a truck carrying a cargo of both methanol and hydrogen peroxide, collided head on with a vehicle on I-90 near Beloit, Wisconsin. The fire from the trucks ruptured fuel tank lit up the dark early morning sky like broad daylight. Local firefighters called in a hazmat specialty team to assess the situation. Fortunately, the methanol drums did not rupture and mix with the hydrogen peroxide, sparing the emergency responders from facing a massive explosion. This was one of the most recent of many crashes involving hazardous materials on the nation's highways recently.
Tractor trailers, due to their size and weight, are inherently hazardous. An overloaded or improperly loaded trailer increases the risk of a truck accident significantly. A tractor trailers cargo weight limit is determined by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) calculated by brake, powertrain, frame and suspension limitations. An overloaded 18-wheeler is operating with a dangerous strain on that equipment. The stopping distance of the truck is dramatically increased. The truck is more likely to jackknife, especially on wet roads. With a raised center of gravity and the possibility of load shifting, the chance of a rollover is much higher. Some overloaded trailers have been known to buckle in the middle and split open on the highway. In many situations, the driver is not even aware of the weight issue until the truck does not respond properly when corrective measures are employed. Despite federal and state regulations, many overloaded tractor trailers are still traveling the nation's highways
Commercial trucks like eighteen-wheeler and delivery trucks present distinctive dangers to smaller vehicles and their passengers. Not only do truck drivers need to be mindful of the dangers presented by their large and bulky vehicles, but other drivers also need to be careful when driving near a large truck. Often, slight driving mistakes, like failing to signal before passing, can result in disaster when a big-rig is involved, especially at high speeds. Sadly, occupants in cars and other small vehicles make up the majority of injuries and fatalities occurring in a commercial truck accidents. Collisions frequently occur because the enormous truck has limited visibility and braking distance and drivers of passenger cars are often unaware of the time it takes for a big-rig to slow down or stop, or even see them.
Nestled in the central, northern, region of Los Angeles County, Palmdale, California is known as "A place to call home." Like so many other parts of the country, Palmdale, relies on the trucking industry to bring goods into the city and thankfully, commerce is alive and well. Commercial trucks are both part of our economy, and traffic, transporting goods across long distances. Driving alongside passenger vehicles, these tractor-trailers, or, big rigs, weigh an astonishing 20 times more than the average private automobile. In fact, there are more than 5.6 million of these giants traveling the roads, according to figures published by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. With approximately 7.5 million private passenger vehicles sharing the same roads in the county, that proximity and speed make it a potentially dangerous situation.
Caution is the byword.
Our blog post today continues with a theme we initially addressed in an entry from last week, namely, commuter train safety in Southern California.
For obvious reasons, the adverse repercussions stemming from a train-related crash can be outsized.