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Driver error often the cause of cargo tanker rollover accidents

California drivers are often extremely cautious when they encounter tractor-trailers hauling tanks of dangerous materials like gasoline, crude oil or other flammable cargo. While crashes involving any large commercial vehicle can cause catastrophic injuries, the threat of toxic spills, fires or explosions make accidents involving tanker trucks particularly dangerous. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 1,300 trucks hauling cargo tanks are involved in rollover incidents each year around the country, and more than three quarters of these accidents involve some form of driver error.

The cause of these driver errors may be even more alarming for California road users. The FMCSA say that an overwhelming 90 percent of rollovers occur as the truck driver is attempting to regain control of the vehicle after a prior emergency situation. Emergency situations may develop when truck drivers are distracted or fatigued. The truck rollover accident statistics also reveal a link between poor vehicle maintenance and rollovers. Accident investigators discovered that more than half of the tanker trucks involved in rollover accidents each year have some form of brake defect.

However, some factors that would appear likely to lead to a rollover have little impact on accident rates according to the FMCSA. Excessive speed only plays a role in about half of the rollovers that occur on the nation's roads each year, and most trucks that rollover do so on straight roads rather than bends.

Truck drivers and trucking companies owe a duty of care to all other road users, and they may face civil sanctions when they fail to uphold their responsibilities. A personal injury attorney may file a lawsuit on behalf of accident victims against truck drivers when negligent behavior such as distracted, impaired or drowsy driving causes a crash, and trucking companies could be pursued in such an action when they fail to adequately maintain their vehicles.

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