Tanker Truck Rollovers

Tanker Truck Wrecks

Tanker truck accidents can be very serious. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, 78% of tanker truck rollovers are due to driver error. Depending upon what the truck is hauling, the truck may explode when there is a significant impact either with another vehicle or due to jackknifing.  If you have been the victim of a tanker truck accident caused by the negligence of the truck driver and/or the trucking company, call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for a free consultation: 800-298-0111.

What is a Tanker Truck?

tanker truck

Tanker trucks are commercial motor vehicles that transport liquid, gaseous and/or dry bulk loads. Liquid materials ma be hazardous substances such as gasoline, waste water or chemicals, or non-hazardous substances like water, milk or other consumables. Gasses typically are hazardous such as nitrogen, hydrogen, propane, butane or other natural gasses.  Dry bulk cargo may include consumables, chemicals, agricultural products and waste, manufacturing byproducts and waste, minerals and other loose bulk items. Some examples include:

  • Dry fertilizer
  • Sand, gravel or dirt
  • Saw dust
  • Coal or bauxite
  • Plastic pellets or other synthetics
  • Seeds, nuts or grains

Smaller tanker trucks may weight 3,000 lbs. or less while the largest in the United States weight around 11,600 lbs.  Most are easy to recognize by their cylindrical trailers or “tank” on the back.

Tanker Truck Training & Requirements

A. The Tanker Endorsement

Not every truck driver is qualified to operate a tanker truck.  In addition to the standard Commercial Drivers License (CDL) required for truck drivers, tanker truck drivers must also obtain a tanker endorsement. This requirement applies not only to traditional tankers but also other types of trucks operating like tankers such as flatbeds, dry vans, box trucks and refrigerated trucks if:

  1. The cargo includes liquid or gaseous individual containers larger than 119 gallon capacity.
  2. The containers are loaded, not empty.
  3. The total combined volume in the containers 1,000 gallons.

hazmat warning on truck

B. The Hazmat Endorsement

In addition to a tanker endorsement, if the tanker operator plans to haul certain materials regulated by State and Federal government at hazardous materials, then he/she must also obtain a Hazmat Endorsement on his/her CDL. Those materials include a number of enumerated materials and substances that include many toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, explosives, flammables, combustibles and other dangerous solids, liquids and gasses.

Tanker Truck Rollovers

A. Susceptibility

Tanker trucks are susceptible to jackknife and rollover accidents. Part of the additional training that is required for tanker truck drivers is roller over prevention by better understanding the trucks design, load shifting tendencies as well as highway and driving factors.   Actions that can contribute to rollovers and jackknifes include:

  • Failing to maintain a single lane of traffic.
  • Driving too fast on wet or icy roads.
  • Operating a truck while drowsy.
  • Making unnecessary sudden movements.
  • Sudden application of the brakes.
  • Over-correcting after allowing wheels to leave the roadway surface.

B. Where Rollovers Occur

Most tanker truck roll-overs occur on straight highways due to an over correction or sudden wheel movement. Only a small percentage occur on exit ramps.  If you have been injured due to the negligence of a tanker truck driver and/or his company, call us for a free consultation.

C. The Double Hazmat Risk

When a tanker hauling hazardous materials rolls over or crashes, there is a risk of a hazmat accident occurring in twice as many ways as other 18-wheeler accidents. Diesel fuel is considered a hazardous material. So anytime a truck wrecks ans spills fuel, a hazmat team must be called in to assess the environmental impact and clean up the hazardous release. When the load, itself, is also a hazardous material, you can actually have a mixture of hazardous materials released when the tanker truck crashes.  Hazmat spills can cause traffic delays for the whole day as was seen in a recent accident in Katy.

Rollovers Due to Company Negligence

In some rollover accidents, the negligence of the company may be the cause of the collision.  Failure to maintain brakes and failure to replace worn tires are major contributing factors to rollovers.  Keith Fletcher successfully represented the family of a truck driver against a company who failed to maintain the air brake system of an 18-wheeler resulting in a runaway truck jackknifing and rolling over on the highway in Arizona.  If your loved one was the victim of a rollover accident due to a trucking company’s failure to maintain the braking system and/or tires, call us for a free consultation.

Talk to an Attorney With Truck Wreck Experience

If you have been injured due to a tanker truck rollover or crash, our truck wreck attorneys may be able to help you seek legal recourse.  You may be entitled to compensation if you were:

  • A passenger or driver of another vehicle hit by the tanker truck, or
  • The driver of a tanker truck (or family) who’s company cause a rollover by refusing or failing to maintain the brakes, tires or other safety conditions on the truck.

Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., for a free consultation. If we do not make a recovery in your case, you will not have to pay us a dime.  Call now. 1-800-298-0111.


Paul Cannon

Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.