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Joseph M. Ghabour & Associates LLC

Tanker Truck Accidents

Tanker trucks carry liquid cargo and a significant percentage of them carry flammable liquids and/other hazardous materials. Any kind of liquid load presents some unique accident risks. Flammable liquids can cause explosions and fires. These fires can burn so hot that they can destroy bridges and overpass quickly enough to cause even more accidents. If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a tanker truck, protect your rights, and contact Ghabour Law. Tanker trucks present many hazards such as:

Sloshing Liquid

Liquid loads behave very differently from dry loads. When liquid starts to slosh in a tank, it causes large weight shifts. It builds momentum and does not settle down quickly or easily. Slosh the liquid in a glass of water - and now imagine the same movement inside of a massive tanker trailer that is traveling at highway speed.

When a tanker truck is filled to less than three-quarters of its tank’s capacity it gives the liquid room to move and slosh more. The weigh shifts make the truck unstable, affecting the way it handles. Sloshing can be severe enough to make the truck go out of control and even cause a rollover. As tankers frequently off load during the day, that tanker on the road most likely has thousands of gallons of flammable liquid on board.

Liquid Weight

When tanker truck is under loaded by volume it creates a sloshing risk. However, overloading with weight presents an entirely different set of dangers. Different types of liquids have different densities, and therefore, different weights. Some liquid cargo is denser than water, which means, also heavier by volume. If the weight of the load is calculated by volume based on the same calculations used for water, the truck can easily be carrying too much weight even if it is not filled to capacity.

Too much weight can cause brake failure, a tire blowout, and problems with handling.

Flammable and Hazardous Liquids

Some tanker trucks carry harmless liquids such as water or milk. However, any liquid spill can complicate an accident scene and make accidents worse. On the other hand, a flammable or hazardous liquid, such as gasoline, can turn a truck accident into a major fire, explosion, or release toxic chemicals that injure accident victims far more than the underlying accident and even hurt bystanders, destroy property, and cause evacuations.


Wetlines are pipes running under the tank of a tanker truck that are used for filling and emptying the tank. As a safety feature, they are designed to break away from the tank if they are struck or make impact with an object. The breakaway helps prevent damage to the tank itself and a larger spill. Though, when these lines are full of gasoline or a flammable liquid, the spill just from the wetlines can still cause a massive fire and severe burn injuries or death. Wetlines can hold up to 40 gallons of liquid. If it is a flammable liquid, it is enough to injure or kill a driver who hits a tanker from the side in the ensuing fire.

Joseph M. Ghabour
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