Tanker Truck Safety a Growing Concern
EVERETT, Mass. --- A residential neighborhood here turned into what looked like a war zone after a speeding tanker truck rolled over in a traffic circle, spilled a 9,400-gallon stream of burning gasoline and torched nearby streets, the Boston Globe reported.
Witnesses told the Globe that the scene was chaotic, with flames torching 21 cars and setting a pair of three-deckers ablaze. As flames leaped onto residential buildings, panicked residents fled.
The Boston Herald reported that the 30-year-old truck driver has had three speeding violations between 2000 and 2002 in New Hampshire, with one citation for driving 83 mph in a 55-mph zone in 2001. The driver works for PS Marston Associates of North Hampton, N.H.
The subject of tanker fleet safety has drawn increased attention lately because of some high-profile accidents.
In late April, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration consultant finished a two-year study on tanker truck safety. The study highlighted the value of high-tech systems that can sense when a tanker is about to lose control and can automatically throttle down and apply anti-lock brakes on certain wheels. These systems cost from $750 to $1,200, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
According to the study, only 6 percent of U.S. tanker rollovers result from the driver falling asleep or suffering a debilitating medical problem such as a heart attack. A total of 38 percent result from the driver's poor choices, and 24 percent result from driver recognition errors, such as trying to swerve onto an exit ramp at the last second.
Hazardous materials experts this week gathered with trucking company representatives in northern California to discuss safety strategies for tanker trucks. The meeting, hosted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Tank Truck Carriers group, discussed new safety technology as well as means for training drivers and breaking them of bad habits. Two of those bad habits: attempting U-turns and not getting enough sleep.