The Deadly Impact of Cargo Spills
We have all driven next to a truck with “Hazardous Material” stamped on its side and felt our whole bodies tense up. Tanker trucks that transport hazardous materials must be handled with great care, as a single mistake by the trucker can cause a devastating accident.
You might assume that these trucks only transport oil, biofuels, and gasoline, but “hazardous materials” can also include everyday products like paint and hairspray. Even with this seemingly harmless cargo, there is still the potential for a deadly cargo spill.
Hazardous Material Endorsement
Not just any driver can transport hazardous material, either across state lines or within Colorado. Alongside their commercial driver’s license (CDL), truckers must receive endorsements from the Department of Transportation (DOT) through the DMV and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees and enforces strict hazardous materials guidelines. This includes requiring drivers to train for at least three years to identify hazardous materials, safely handle cargo, respond to emergency situations, and handle other job-specific qualifications. This training typically comes through the trucker’s employer, who is responsible for making sure the trucker is qualified to handle hazardous materials without causing a truck accident.
How Do Tanker Truck Spills Occur?
Driver error is the main cause of trucking accidents in the U.S. They are the ones behind the wheel, in charge of operating their vehicles as safely as possible. If a truck driver speeds, takes a turn too sharply, or overloads – or underloads – a tanker truck, there is a high risk of a rollover occurring, which can be deadly. Bottom line: when a truck driver acts negligently, it puts everyone on the road in danger.
Negligent behaviors that contribute to cargo spills include:
- Making reckless turns, which can cause rollovers
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Being fatigued
- Driving while distracted
- Driving too aggressively
- Overloading or underloading a tanker truck
- Failing to repair or maintain a tanker truck
Unfortunately, drivers are also dependent on the quality of the roads they are on. In an analysis of driving conditions across the United States by Reason Foundation, Colorado’s roads ranked 38 out of 50 for road quality, a ranking determined by fatal accident rates, bridge conditions, traffic congestion, and urban and rural pavement conditions. Overall, only twelve states have worse roads than we do. This negative ranking does not bode well for drivers who are transporting hazardous materials. Even a well-trained and experienced trucker can make a fatal error on a poorly maintained road, resulting in a catastrophic spill. But that is no excuse.
Holding Negligent Trucking Companies Liable
Mishandling a tanker truck and causing a cargo spill can be devastating. The immediate danger of hazardous materials in a high-impact collision is a fatal explosion, but there is also the threat of toxic exposure. Many tanker trucks transport everyday products like bleach, pesticides, and chlorine, which can cause serious health conditions in nearby drivers, even if they were not touched by the truck itself.
These accidents should never occur, but when they do, our Colorado Springs personal injury attorneys at the Bussey Law Firm, P.C., are here to provide the aggressive legal representation that accident victims need. Our legal team understands how complex these accidents can be and can use our expertise to determine who caused your injuries. We do not settle for anything less than the best for our clients and are not afraid to stand up to big insurance companies. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 475-2555.