A multi-vehicle crash resulted in a fuel truck bursting into a fireball on New Jersey State Interstate 78. At least one person died in the accident, reported the New York Daily News (12.6.14).
The crash involved a tanker, a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle. At least 9,000 gallons of fuel spilled onto the highway, which was closed in both directions for several hours, reported the New York Daily News (12.6.14).
After a preliminary investigation of the crash, authorities believe that the driver transporting a fuel tanker may have crossed an eastbound lane, crashed and caught fire, reported the New York Daily News.
None of the three drivers of the vehicles involved in the crash have been identified yet.
Tanker trucks are just one of the many different types of commercial trucks on the roads. Like other large trucks, tanker trucks typically carry very heavy loads, which can increase the overall weight of the trucks considerably. A truck that is carrying a heavy load needs more space and time for braking than other vehicles. Drivers may also have been driving for several hours.
Although all large trucks are dangerous to the occupants of other vehicles, when an accident happens, tanker trucks may be more dangerous. Highly flammable liquids like fuel or industrial chemicals can become extremely hazardous if the truck carrying them is involved in an accident. A fire or explosion can cause debris to shoot out and hit other vehicles and people, resulting in injuries. Injuries caused by hazardous materials may include chemical burns and fume inhalation.
According to the latest numbers available from the Department of Transportation, 333,000 large trucks across the U.S. were involved in traffic accidents in 2012. Of that number, 3802 of the trucks were involved in fatal crashes. There were 3921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in the crashes. Most of the people who died (72 percent) were occupants of vehicles other than the large truck. The rest of the fatalities were the truck drivers themselves or others, including pedestrians and cyclists.
Tanker trucks can crash for a number of reasons. One is negligence or recklessness on the part of the truck driver or trucking company. Tanker drivers cannot drive aggressively; exceed posted speed limits, including any reduced truck speed limits; or drive while distracted, sleepy or impaired. Failure to properly maintain tires, brakes and lights, install blind-spot mirrors, or fill the tank correctly can also lead to serious accidents.
Tanker trucks must adhere to a specific set of regulations different from other large trucks. Because of the hazardous nature of the loads, drivers must be qualified and specially trained. Negligence on the part of the driver or the people responsible for maintaining the tanker truck can result in a serious accident. Drivers, truck owners who hire the drivers, and those who enforce training protocols may all be considered responsible for a tanker truck accident.