Pennsylvania motorists are often extremely cautious when they encounter semi-tractor trailers transporting tanks of hazardous materials. When these tanks are ruptured in a collision or rollover, the resulting spills of crude oil, gasoline or flammable gas can cause explosions, fires and environmental damage. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration compiled statistics about the causes of the approximately 1,300 rollover accidents involving tanker trucks each year, and it concluded that most of these crashes were caused by some form of driver error.
According to the FMCSA statistics that were based upon 2007 data, mistakes made by truck drivers contributed to 78 percent of all tanker truck rollover accidents in that year. The safety agency also discovered that a majority of these errors were made as truck drivers attempted to avoid a crash caused by an earlier incident such as losing concentration, falling asleep or making an improper turn. About 20 percent of the rollover accidents were caused by inattention or fatigue according to the FMCSA, and the leading cause of serious rollover crashes was inattentive drivers allowing their vehicles to run off the road.
Experience behind the wheel was found to provide little protection against rollover tanker truck accidents. According to the FMCSA, more than two thirds of the truck drivers involved in a rollover crash in that year while hauling hazardous materials had been driving trucks for at least 10 years. The agency also noted that most rollover accidents involved trucks observing the posted speed limit on straight sections of roadway.
A personal injury attorney seeking compensation for truck accident victims may file lawsuits against the truck drivers involved or their employers. Truck drivers may be held responsible when an accident is caused by negligent behavior such as distracted, impaired or drowsy driving. The trucking companies themselves could be deemed liable when poorly maintained vehicles or inadequately trained drivers contributed to an accident.