Semi-tractors pulling cargo tanks containing hazardous materials are a common sight on the highways of Nebraska, and the vast majority of them are able to complete their journeys without incident. However, when an accident involving one of these vehicles does take place, spills of gasoline, crude oil or flammable gas can greatly increase the dangers faced by area residents and road users. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 1,300 cargo tanker trucks are involved in rollover accidents each year around the country.
While many people may believe that these types of commercial vehicle accidents are often caused by truck drivers speeding around tight bends in poor conditions, the statistics do not bear these views out. Excessive speed is considered a factor in less than 50 percent of truck rollover accidents, and more than half of them occur on straight roads. Driver inexperience is another factor often thought to contribute to truck rollovers, but the statistics indicate that two thirds of the drivers involved in this kind of accident have more than 10 years of driving experience.
According to the FMCSA, driver error is found to have contributed to 78 percent of truck rollover accidents. The agency also says that the rollover generally occurs after a preceding event such as a driver being distracted or falling asleep behind the wheel. The FMCSA data also reveals that more than half of the trucks involved in a rollover accident had some form of brake defect.
Collisions involving large commercial vehicles can cause catastrophic injuries, and victims may pursue civil remedies when the accident is due to the negligent behavior of truck drivers or trucking companies. While drivers may bear responsibility when an accident is caused by their being distracted, impaired or drowsy, their employers could also be held culpable when they do not adequately maintain their vehicles or supervise their drivers.