Tractor-trailers typically have a high center of gravity, which makes them susceptible to rollover crashes. The key to preventing a rollover is for drivers to be able to recognize the hazards that increase the likelihood of a crash and apply the appropriate defense measures.
Read the information below and ask yourself if there are actions you can take to improve your driving skills and reduce the risk of a rollover crash.
RECOGNIZE THE HAZARDS
Uneven road surfaces can cause cargo to shift and roll the trailer over. High winds can catch a trailer without warning and cause a rollover. Likewise, traffic conditions, such as vehicles stopping suddenly ahead, can cause a driver to react abruptly and lead to a jackknife and possibly a rollover crash.
A truck’s high center of gravity makes it susceptible to rollovers. Likewise, the slosh/surge of liquid commodities or improper load securement can cause cargo to shift and roll the trailer over.
Driving too fast on a ramp, curve, or turn increases the amount of centrifugal force on the trailer; the increased force will push the unit outward and possibly cause a rollover. Overcorrecting when reacting to a hazard, putting a wheel off the road surface, or hitting a curb can upset the vehicle and cause a rollover.
KNOW THE DEFENSE
OBSERVE PROPER SPEED FOR CONDITIONS
Reduce speed 2-3 mph below the flow of traffic, not to exceed the posted speed limit. Adjust speed for stability based on vehicle weight and height of load. On ramps and curves, reduce speed by at least 5-10 mph below the posted speed limit or more based on conditions. The speed limit signs on ramps are intended for passenger vehicles.
MAINTAIN PROPER FOLLOWING DISTANCE
Avoid hard brakes by maintaining a minimum of six seconds following distance. Add one additional second for every hazard present, such as slippery conditions, traffic congestion, and poor visibility.
Avoid distractions inside or outside of the cab. Be alert for traffic ahead slowing or stopping abruptly. Pre-plan your route and program your GPS before leaving to avoid making changes while driving.
REACT PROPERLY TO HAZARDS
At the first sign of centrifugal force pulling the truck to the outside of a ramp or curve, get off the accelerator and apply controlled braking. Avoid overcorrecting in reaction to hazards.
CONDUCT A PRE-TRIP INSPECTION
Conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection with special emphasis on brakes to ensure they are properly adjusted; and on tires to ensure sufficient tread depth. Ensure the trailer is properly hooked to the tractor. Check load securement at every stop to prevent possible shifting while en route.
Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.
The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.
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