One of the most common types of accidents involving large trucks are rollovers. While all truck-related accidents are serious given a typical tractor-trailer's size and weight, rollovers can be especially dangerous because they tend to happen quickly and with little warning to the driver or to nearby motorists. Tanker trucks are especially susceptible to rollovers, because their cargo is liquid and can naturally shift quickly when taking corners.
However, according to some new studies, many of these rollover crashes could be avoided with the use of technology that is already available and required on many passenger vehicles. According to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 3,500 accidents could be prevented each year with the usage of stability control systems on large trucks.
These stability systems essentially work by having sensors located near the wheels communicate to the truck's computer, which determines if the vehicle is becoming unbalanced or is in danger of rolling over. The computer then makes adjustments by applying the brakes to individual wheels until the truck is back in balance.
Currently this technology is required by the government to be added to all new passenger vehicles, but it isn't being required on commercial trucks. Regardless, some trucking companies are being proactive and adding the systems. One Houston-based company claims that it has reduced its rollover accidents from an average of 11 a year to one per year since installing the systems.
Considering the greater potential for accidents without the systems, the large potential liability for a serious truck accident, and the relatively low cost of adding these systems to trucks (estimated to be a little over $1,000 per truck), it seems that utilizing these systems may be in everyone's best interest.
According to the NHTSA estimates, truck rollovers also account for as many as 4,400 injuries and 106 fatalities every year.
NHTSA: New technology can prevent truck rollovers (Associated Press)