Oil Tanker Accidents: How Dangerous Are They?

We all know that motor vehicle travel is one of the more risky modes of transportation. Any traffic accident is inherently dangerous, but a traffic accident involving a moving vehicle carrying hazardous cargo is significantly more dangerous. Yet such vehicles regularly travel our highways: the vehicles are tanker trucks moving to and from hydrofracking operations on the Eagle Ford Shale and Barnett Shale throughout South Texas.

A couple of recent tanker truck explosions have injured people, severely damaging property and causing possible harm to the environment. One tanker exploded and caught fire; while no one was injured, it caused $400,000 in damages. According to witnesses, the tanker caught fire, causing the pressure to build until the release valve popped open, which allowed flames and gas to escape into the air. The lead firefighter on the scene stated that oil tankers are like “bombs on wheels” and are very dangerous to all involved – the driver, passengers, other motorists and the firemen who have to respond to the accident scene.

Another oil tanker explosion caused so much damage to an overpass that the state had to declare an emergency. That state is scheduled to receive $2 million in emergency federal funds to repair the damaged highway. It took over 200 firefighters to fight the blaze, which started because a tanker truck carrying 8,800 gallons of gasoline caught fire. While the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, inspectors think that the accident may have originated because of a problem with the brakes.

Oil tanker explosions are often caused by the brute force of a tanker truck hitting another vehicle. In one instance, an oil tanker truck filled with 8,500 gallons of gas hit a minivan carrying a family of eight. The passengers were injured but none of their injuries were fatal.

In addition to direct collisions, oil tanker explosions are caused by faulty fuel tanks, tanks that are overweight, bad muffler systems that ignite and a myriad of other reasons. When you add to that equation the fact that the tankers are hauling highly flammable or otherwise hazardous materials, the fact that we have accidents is not surprising.

As long as oil tankers and other types of tanker trucks travel our highways, there will be accidents. However, all involved should take the necessary precautions to limit the frequency of these accidents and their associated costs. If you or a loved one has been injured because of an oil tanker truck accident, you may want to contact a local personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.