Avoiding Rollover Accidents

Any type of accident can be an unsettling and traumatic experience, but incidents where a vehicle rolls over or control is otherwise lost can be especially dangerous. While they may be relatively infrequent in nature, they are often severe and result in substantial losses. Further, a number of variables, ranging from the cargo to road conditions, can factor into these incidents.

To better maintain vehicle control and avoid rollovers, remember to:
  • Make sure your cargo is properly secured to prevent movement from side to side. Adjust your driving for top-heavy cargo as it can cause commercial vehicles to roll over in curves at slower speeds.
  • Reduce your speed as you enter curves.
  • Be aware that maintaining speeds at curve advisory may not be slow enough to prevent a rollover (many advisory postings are for passenger vehicles).
  • Stay off the shoulder while in curves because your wheels may drop or sink down and increase the likelihood of a rollover.
  • Do the following on downgrades:
    • Select a gear no higher than that required for ascending the same grade. Some vehicles may require lower grades going down than up, so know your vehicle.
    • Do not use more than light brake pressure (10 psi) to slow speed. Using a lower gear ratio may be necessary if speed cannot be controlled with light pressure.
    • Do not use hand lever to apply only the trailer brakes as this could result in the trailer brakes overheating.
    • Stop, put vehicle in proper gear, and check brake function before going down long, steep grades.
  • Do the following when traction and/or visibility are reduced:
    • Increase your following distance from vehicles ahead in case they slow or stop suddenly.
    • Apply brakes gently and avoid jerking the steering wheel.
    • Use extra caution when running empty or bobtailing as wheels can lock up more easily and cause jackknifing.
    • Avoid traveling too slowly on slick, banked curves as your vehicle may slide sideways (either off the road or into the path of oncoming traffic)
    • Be prepared to get off the road and wait for conditions to improve.

Rollovers and other accidents where a driver loses control of a vehicle tend to be a low frequency, high severity occurrences. A professional truck driver must be mindful of road conditions and familiar with the vehicle’s capabilities and load. Doing so can help avoid a potentially catastrophic accident.

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