Driving on U.S. highways and interstates can be dangerous, especially when driving at high speeds or at night. Passenger cars commonly encounter large commercial truck and fuel tankers traveling at speeds up to 65 mph. Riding next to a large semi tractor-trailer or fuel tanker can be a frightening experience.
Fuel tankers are considered some of the most dangerous motor vehicles on the road. Because they are loaded with thousands of gallons of flammable liquids or hazardous chemicals, they are especially dangerous to other vehicles on the road. According to the National Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are approximately 100,000 fuel tankers on U.S. highways and interstates on any given day. On average, each fuel tanker is loaded with 5,000 to 12,000 gallons of some type of fuel or flammable liquid. Typically, a semi tractor-trailer can hold up to 9,000 gallons of fuel and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.
According to federal laws, the maximum weight limit for a commercial truck is 80,000 pounds. Because of their large size, significant weight, and flammable liquid cargo, fuel tankers are especially dangerous in a crash. They are prone to rollovers in a crash because their liquid cargo makes them very unstable. If a rollover occurs, the fuel tanker can easily ruptures and spill flammable liquid into a large area. The risks of intense fires and explosions are high. Fuel vapors are so flammable, they can be ignited by anyone within a certain radius that uses a cell phone to call for help. Nearby passenger cars and pedestrians are at significant risk of serious injury or death from severe burns, crushed or amputated extremities, head trauma, and exposure to toxic fumes.
According to NHTSA accident statistics, approximately 2,800 fuel tanker accidents required assistance from Hazmat crews in 2014. Heath studies confirm that exposure to toxic fuel vapors and hazardous chemical fumes for a prolonged period of time can lead to long-term health problems including lung damage and heart failure. Unfortunately, a boston truck accident attorney often sees fatalities associated with fuel tanker rollovers.