Over the past two years, serious California tanker trucks have claimed several lives and injured dozens in California. One such crash occurred in May of last year, on a Highway 99 off ramp in Atwater, causing an enormous gasoline explosion and forcing hundreds to evacuate. Sadly, the driver of the tanker truck perished in the crash.
With an improved economy, the number of tanker trucks on the road, delivering materials as hazardous as hydrochloric acid or as mundane as molasses, has increased significantly, putting the safety of other drivers at greater risk of harm.
Despite the relatively high number of California tanker truck crashes over the past two years, there were no hazardous material disasters causing widespread damage and mass casualties. Cataclysmic events are always a possibility, considering the large quantities of volatile or hazardous materials being trucked on heavily traveled roads and highways, often through densely populated areas.
Tanker trucks are a familiar sight on almost every major road or highway in California. They transport many types of liquids, including gasoline, jet fuel, oil, caustic chemicals, milk and even wine. Aside from railcars they are the nations largest overland transportation of these products. Because much of the cargo they carry is volatile or caustic they pose a constant risk to public safety. Some tankers are divided to carry more than one type of liquid at one time, while others are smaller and designed for carrying liquid gases such as propane and liquefied petroleum gas.
The loads of liquids can be nearly 10,000 gallons as they travel through urban and rural areas. Despite the fact that the greater amount of hazardous liquid can cause the most damage, it is the half-filled truck that is the most likely to be involved in a California tanker truck crash, due to instability from sloshing side to side. The sudden shifting of weight makes the truck more likely to roll over during a sudden maneuver. Forcing any truck into an evasive move is dangerous, but especially so for a tanker.
There are several potentially deadly occurrences that may result from a tanker truck crash including:
· Explosion – Liquid petroleum gas, compressed fuels and certain industrial compounds have the potential for causing enormous explosions which can result in catastrophic and widespread damage
· Fire – Automotive or jet fuel can suddenly become a giant fireball, destroying everything within proximity. Other vehicles, roadways, bridges and overpasses and nearby structures can be quickly reduced to an igneous mass.
· Toxic fumes and chemical burns – Caustic chemicals as well as toxic fumes and vapors can cause burns, respiratory damage and poisoning. Following a crash involving hazardous materials, widespread evacuations may be ordered. Serious injury can occur to those involved with the crash as well as those only in the nearby vicinity
· Spillage – Contents that spills or leaks onto the road, from damaged or improperly sealed tanks, may create a hazard such as slippery conditions or splashing of caustic liquids, resulting in vehicle damage or injury.
What are the Likely Causes of California Tanker Truck Crashes?
A tanker trucks inclination to rollover results form it’s high center of gravity and the “sloshing” or weight shifting of its liquid cargo. It is often the action of another vehicle that causes the truck to roll or jackknife.
According to 2015 statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) only 33% of commercial vehicle accidents showed a driver related factor as part of the cause. Unfortunately it is often the occupants of a different vehicle, that drove into the crash that are injured or killed. Statistics show that 98% of the time deaths in truck vs. auto accidents occur to the automobile occupants.
Help for California Tanker Truck Crash Victims
If you or a loved one was injured, or you lost someone, in any commercial vehicle crash, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced truck accident lawyer from Vititoe Law Group will perform a complete and comprehensive investigation regarding every detail encompassing the accident, including the drivers record, hours on duty without rest, medical history, toxicology and police reports. The attorney will also interview witnesses, and hire an accident reconstruction expert if necessary, to recover the maximum compensation available. Reach out to a qualified truck accident attorney at Vititoe Law Group today at 818-851-1886 for a free confidential consultation.