The Real Reasons Oil Tankers Roll Over So Often

Oil Tanker RolloversOil tanker rollovers are incidents that happen more frequently than many might realize, and in places like Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the oil industry plays a significant role in the local economy, these accidents can be devastating. In fact, the Tulsa area is no stranger to rollovers.

Back in March, a tanker truck rolled over on 75 in Glenpool. Thankfully, this particular rollover didn’t cause any injuries or other accidents, but it did cause a major traffic disruption. Nationwide, these incidents are more common than you might think. National statistics show that tanker rollovers happen regularly, impacting both road safety and the environment. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that each year, there are more than 1,300 reported cargo tank rollovers, translating to an average of almost four rollovers occurring daily. These accidents can lead to hazardous material spills, injuries, and major traffic disruptions.

In recent years, there has been growing concern surrounding the frequency of tanker rollovers, not only in Tulsa but across the nation. Unfortunately, these accidents not only negatively affect the safety of those on the road but also the environment and nearby communities.

What are oil tanker rollovers?

Oil tanker rollovers refer to accidents involving large vehicles, commonly known as tank trucks or tankers, that transport liquid cargo, such as petroleum products or chemicals in bulk quantities. These tankers are designed with a cylindrical tank or cargo compartment to carry these liquids safely. A rollover occurs when the tanker vehicle tips over onto its side or completely flips over onto its roof during transit, spilling its contents and potentially causing significant damage and hazards. These accidents typically happen on highways, city streets, or rural roads, and they can have severe consequences.

Debunking common rollover myths

Similar to large truck accidents, many assume that the reason why oil tankers roll over so often is because the drivers are driving recklessly or are driving in hazardous road conditions. Studies show that while that may be the case in some instances, there are usually more variables in play that contribute or cause these types of incidents.

Road conditions

While road conditions undoubtedly play somewhat of a role in a few accidents, they are not the sole or primary cause of tanker rollovers. Road surfaces can vary, and factors like weather, potholes, or uneven terrain may challenge drivers. However, NHTSA reveals that less than 4% of rollover accidents happen because of road and weather conditions, shedding light on the fact that other factors are at play.

Driving recklessly

The second myth relates to accusations of drivers not driving safely. While speed is an important factor in road safety, accusing drivers of excessive speed as the sole cause of rollovers oversimplifies the issue. In reality, only 28% of all tanker rollovers happen as a result of excessive driving speed, according to NHTSA.

What actually makes tankers roll over?

While common myths have often overshadowed the underlying issues, a closer look at the data reveals the real reasons why these rollovers occur.

  • Driver error. Fatigue and drowsiness play a prominent role in these incidents. Drowsy drivers are more prone to making critical errors, jeopardizing the stability of their vehicles and increasing the risk of rollovers. Additionally, accidentally hitting curbs, though seemingly minor, can lead to disastrous consequences.
  • Vehicle condition. Brake defects, in particular, are prevalent among the vehicles involved in these accidents. Such defects compromise a driver’s ability to maintain control, especially when they need to slow down or make sudden stops. NHTSA also reported 54% of vehicles in rollovers had some type of a brake defect.
  • Load size. The “slosh and surge” effect, as it’s commonly referred to, occurs when liquid cargo inside the tanker shifts due to acceleration, deceleration, or turns. This dynamic force can destabilize the vehicle, potentially leading to a rollover. A majority of rollover incidents, approximately 63%, involved cargo tanks that were transporting partial loads.

The devastating effects of tanker rollovers in Tulsa

When oil tanker rollovers occur, the impact is not limited to the immediate scene of the accident—that’s why tankers are so dangerous. The accident can have profound consequences for everyone involved, particularly passengers in other vehicles. The injuries sustained by these victims can range from minor to severe, depending on various factors, including the speed of the collision, the cargo being transported, and the type of vehicles involved. If a tank transporting certain chemicals starts leaking, something as simple as exposure to toxic fumes can be fatal.

Environmental consequences

Beyond the immediate human toll, oil tanker rollovers have notable environmental consequences. The cargo these tankers carry often includes hazardous materials, and when a rollover occurs, it can lead to spills that pose risks to the environment. Cleanup efforts become necessary to mitigate the damage, which can be extensive and long-lasting.

Environmental hazards resulting from oil tanker rollovers include soil and water contamination, which can affect local ecosystems and wildlife. Contaminated soil may require remediation efforts, and pollutants can leach into groundwater, posing threats to drinking water supplies. Local authorities and environmental agencies often mobilize quickly to address these challenges, emphasizing the importance of both prevention and preparedness in the face of such incidents.

In the face of the often-devastating consequences of oil tanker truck accidents in Tulsa, it’s important to have a trusted ally by your side. If you were involved in an accident where an oil tanker rolled over, seek the support and expertise of the experienced team at Biby Law Firm. Our dedicated professionals are here to guide you through the legal process and fight for you. To take the first step towards justice and recovery, call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case review.