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The Fiery Dangers of Fuel Tanker Accidents

Accidents with fuel tankers pose a considerable risk of serious injury or death when they are involved in an accident. Recent statistics show that there are over 100,000 fuel tankers cruising down American roads. Each of these trucks can carry between 5,5000 to 11,600 gallons of fuel in their tanks. When these tanks rupture in an automobile accident, it can cause fires, explosions, and/or toxic exposure that can have a severely negative impact on an individual's health. Explosions and Fires are Real Risks Each year, between 80 and 100 victims die from fires that occur when a fuel truck is... 

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Accidents with fuel tankers pose a considerable risk of serious injury or death when they are involved in an accident. Recent statistics show that there are over 100,000 fuel tankers cruising down American roads. Each of these trucks can carry between 5,5000 to 11,600 gallons of fuel in their tanks. When these tanks rupture in an automobile accident, it can cause fires, explosions, and/or toxic exposure that can have a severely negative impact on an individual's health.

Explosions and Fires are Real Risks

Each year, between 80 and 100 victims die from fires that occur when a fuel truck is involved in an accident. These deaths are caused when the fuel tank ruptures and explodes on impact, or when the tank ruptures and is ignited when it comes into contact with hot engines, sparks, etc. Fuel vapors may even be ignited when an individual uses a cell phone to call for help.

The greater the presence of fuel, the greater the danger. This danger increases the higher the quantity and octane of the fuel. Moreover, factors such as humidity, temperature, and dispersion can significantly increase the risk of an explosion. As such, first responders will tailor their approach in order to safely and quickly extract anyone involved in an accident with a fuel tanker.

Fuel Spills are a Hazmat Situation

Fuel spills are the most common response call fire departments receive. In 2014, there were 2,609 large truck accidents that required Hazmat assistance. Regardless of whether it is kerosene, gasoline, or diesel, preventing further fuel spillage and abating the risk of fire are top priorities for first responders to an accident scene.

In many cases, firefighters will use foam to alleviate the risk. The foam is designed to contain the fuel and prevent combustion. It will suppress, but not eliminate the exposure to fuel fumes. When firefighters deploy foam, its purpose is to safely contain the spill so that exposure can be minimized.

However, foam does not prevent ground seepage, and the possibility of severe environmental damage remains as the fuel may seep into groundwater or sewer tunnels. Indeed, a fuel spill can have severe long-term consequences on the environment that can only be assessed during a thorough accident investigation.

Fuel Spills Cause Respiratory Damage

Inhaling fuel is not good for the respiratory system. Irritant gasses can inflame mucosa within the respiratory tract. In the short term, this can cause tracheitis, bronchitis, or brocnhiolitis. If the duration of exposure is prolonged, say when a passenger or driver is trapped wiithin a vehicle, fuel exposure can cause hypoxemia.

Prolonged exposure to toxic fuel fumes can lead to cardiac failure or permanent damage to the lungs. Long-term effects of prolonged exposure can include pulmonary hypertension, systemic hypotension, or myocardial dystension. Each of these conditions can have a significant impact on an individual's ability to breathe normally for the rest of their life. Semi-truck accident attorneys can help individuals seek compensation both for their immediate injuries and the long-term consequences to their health that result from the accident.

The Ever Present Danger of Crushing Injuries

A fully loaded fuel tanker can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. This weight creates significant momentum as the fuel truck travels down the road. Should the fuel truck rear end another vehicle, it will transfer this momentum to the driver and occupants of the vehicle it strikes. This can cause severe whiplash and injuries to the spinal cord and

If the fuel truck is traveling fast enough, it may simply "barrel over" the vehicle it strikes. This can crush the vehicle's occupants. Indeed, survivability in these types of accidents is very low, and those who do survive often have severe injuries including multiple broken bones, internal bleeding, and significant organ damage.

Fuel Truck Accidents Hit Close to Home

Semi-truck accident attorney's in Tennessee handle multiple tanker truck accidents every year. One of the most serious occurred in January when a fuel tanker carrying 8,900 gallons of diesel and unleaded fuel overturned on the Clarkville Pike. Fortunately, that accident did not result in any serious injuries or deaths even though the tanker had tipped on its side.

Even more fortunate were the drivers and passengers involved in a 15-vehicle collision in March that occurred just outside of Cleveland. That accident resulted multiple collisions and a fuel spill. Even with the significant damage that each vehicle sustained, no one was hurt or killed.

These accidents show the random nature of the injuries and fatalities tanker truck collisions can cause. Individuals involved in more recent tanker truck collisions in other states have not been as fortunate. Taken together, these accidents and the recent abandonment of proposed trucking regulations show that the risks are very real and that drivers should exercise considerable caution when traveling down the road in the vicinity of a fuel tanker.

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