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Steady As You Go

By on November 5, 2010
RoadKing Mag

See “Cargo Tank Driver Rollover Prevention”
The video is also free to download as part of a safety-training program for drivers.

Think about when you were a kid competing in an egg relay race at summer camp. You were never so careful about carrying anything as you were holding that raw egg gingerly on a spoon as you lurched toward the finish line.

Now that you’re grown up and making a living as a truck driver, you probably don’t compete in many egg relay races. But doesn’t it stand to reason that you’re probably a safer driver day-to-day if you imagine you’re always carrying a precarious load down the road?

That’s what the producers of a new safety video aimed primarily at drivers hauling big liquid loads believe. They argue that even if you’re never likely to pull a tank trailer behind your tractor, you’ll still gain potentially life- and load-saving advice by viewing the video, “Cargo Tank Driver Rollover Prevention,’’ produced jointly by the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) and the American Trucking Associations in cooperation with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

As part of his work with the NTTC, Steve Niswander, vice president of safety policy and regulatory regulations for Groendyke Transport Inc. in Enid, Okla., envisioned this video for tanker drivers to help reduce dangerous rollovers. Groendyke runs about 1,000 tractors 70 million miles annually, hauling mostly liquid hazardous materials.

Niswander argues the new video — the latest component of a national anti-rollover campaign — is a must-see safety tool for drivers who pull tank trailers or trucks with fixed tanks. But he believes that any truckers who find themselves hauling an unstable load or a load with a high center of gravity will benefit from the tips imparted in the video.

In the video, 33-year driver G. Wayne Matheson sounds the safety watchword for fellow cargo tank haulers – and truckers in general. “Anytime you speed up, you’re subject to mess up,’’ Matheson warns. “When you get so comfortable and think that you’ve been driving so long and you have so much experience that it all comes natural to you, you’re gonna mess up. Because something’s going to get you when you’re not expecting it.’’

The video features interviews with drivers who have been involved in a rollover crash, and graphics detailing what happens to a truck carrying an unstable load after sudden movements and tripping the wheels over the shoulder. It shows how slosh and surge can result from driving too fast for conditions, squaring off the turning radius, sudden braking and more.

Drivers are ultimately responsible for many of these factors, starting with taking the time for route planning when carrying a load prone to rollover risk. The main tips to remember:

Know your limitations. Be aware of how loads with a high center of gravity will react when you turn, hit a ramp or execute a braking maneuver. A full load is actually safer to transport than a partial load. The vast majority of rollover crashes (94 percent) occur in rigs carrying partial liquid loads, which are more susceptible to extreme sloshing and surging.

Manage your speed. Speed limits and guidelines at curves are meant for general motorists in good weather conditions, not for drivers pulling unstable loads. Truckers should maintain a speed at least 10 mph below the posted speed on curves. The faster you go, the more risk that a sudden adjustment will cause a rollover.

Maintain your rig, route. Always perform thorough pre-trip inspections to make sure the brakes, tires and suspension are operating safely. Before you take the wheel, identify the higher risk sections of your route. Pinpoint stretches with soft shoulders, downhill grades, limited visibility and twisty turns. Know these risks well ahead of time so you can slow your reactions and maintain control.

Watch for driver fatigue. It’s always a bad idea to drive when you’re tired, but it’s doubly dangerous when pulling top-heavy or liquid loads.

See “Cargo Tank Driver Rollover Prevention”

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