Connecticut Recycling Truck Rollover Shows Dangers of Large Trucks

In November 2011, a recycling truck overturned in Stamford, Connecticut in the middle of the morning while traveling down Main Street. The truck rolled over after hitting the side of a railroad trestle. While no one was hurt in the truck accident, it demonstrates how dangerous large commercial vehicles can be on the roads because they are so prone to rollover accidents. All drivers should be aware of why trucks tend to rollover more than other vehicles, the common causes of truck rollovers and how to prevent rollover accidents.

Why Trucks Are Prone to Rollovers

Large trucks have rollover accidents more frequently than other vehicles because they have higher centers of gravity. One way that engineers measure the tendency of a vehicle to rollover is by determining the number of g-forces that it requires to tip over. Fully-loaded semi trucks require about 0.4 g-force to tip over; half-empty tankers can require as little as 0.15. In contrast, full-sized cars take about a 1.3 g-forces, pick-up trucks need about 1.1, Jeeps and other SUVs require about 0.08-1. It is almost impossible for a car to generate a g-force of 1.3, but it is easy for a large truck to get to 0.4.

Causes of Truck Rollovers on Connecticut Highways

One of the main reasons that trucks rollover is from driving on curved roads, such as entrance and exit ramps on freeways. As the truck follows the curve of the road, it leans to the outside of the curve as a result of the centrifugal force acting on the truck's center of gravity. If the centrifugal force is strong enough, the truck will roll away from the center of the curve. Centrifugal force increases as the truck's speed and the sharpness of the curve in the road do.

Trucks can rollover on curves when going slowly, too. If the tire strikes a curb, for example, the truck may rollover or if the trailer axle is outside the steering axle.

Rollovers are not always a result of speed or curves, though. Trucks can roll going as slowly as 5 miles per hour if conditions are right, such as on a steep slope. Trucks can also roll while backing up if they jackknife. Many trucks rollover when a driver tries to return to pavement after having one wheel go off the road into a ditch. Simply changing lanes can be enough to cause a rollover accident if the vehicle is sufficiently large and the lane maneuver is sharp enough.

Other causes of rollovers include:

  • Driving to quickly on wet or icy roads
  • Driver inattention
  • Sudden maneuvers
  • Load shift

Preventing Connecticut Truck Rollovers

Truck drivers can take some steps to prevent rollover truck accidents, despite how prone the vehicles are to rollovers, by following some guidelines:

  • Do not drive a tanker truck less than three-quarters full - the tendency for the vehicles to rollover when not fully-filled is too great to justify
  • If a tire goes off the pavement, bring the truck to a complete stop before trying to get back on the road and check to ensure that it is possible to do so safely
  • Drive with extreme caution on curved roads
  • Use care when changing lanes, entering and exiting roads and turning
  • Never drive when drowsy or impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Inspect the truck before driving to make sure that the brakes are in proper working condition and the tires are properly inflated
  • Make sure that the truck's load is evenly distributed through the trailer and not top-heavy
  • Make sure the truck's load is secure to prevent shifting during transport

Driving trucks can be a dangerous job, due to the vehicles' propensity to roll over. However, it is not only truck drivers who need to know how risky it is. All drivers who share the road with large trucks need to be aware of the hazards that these vehicles present so they can drive in a manner that will ensure their own safety.

Despite drivers' efforts at keeping safe, accidents still happen. If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck, do not hesitate to contact an experienced New Haven vehicle accidents attorney who can help you recover compensation for the injuries you have suffered.