Transporting Liquids

Transporting liquids can make trucks harder to control. Learn about safe liquid transport and cautious driver behavior to prevent accidents.

Tanker trucks are generally mounted higher than other standard truck beds. This raises the center of gravity and makes tanker trucks top heavy and prone to rollovers. Liquids move more fluidly and violently than solid trucked materials, so they can add to tanker instability.

When the truck accelerates or brakes, the liquid can splash forward or backward. When the truck turns, liquid can splash side to side. These extreme movements add weight and momentum to the truck’s movements and may cause driver’s to lose control. Side to side surge can cause rollovers; uncontrolled forward momentum can propel a truck into an intersection.

Some tankers have baffles, or smaller chambers, inside the tanker that help control the liquid movement. Some baffles only minimize the forward and backward movements, while newer baffling systems also control the side to side. Food grade tankers may be open or smooth-bore if baffles are too difficult to disinfect.

Get training in safe driving methods for liquid transports. Inspect your tanker truck before each trip. Evaluate your transport methods. Where possible, use baffled liquid tankers to control the liquid movements. It is safer and there is less load movement if you transport a full tank of liquid.

Know your routes ahead of time to be familiar with hazards. Watch highway and weather conditions and manage your speed accordingly. Slow, deliberate driving minimizes liquid surge and prevents losing control. Check your speedometer frequently and before turning or braking. Be cautious during turns. Round turns to decrease the tanker movement. Don’t cut turns short. Watch for soft berms and shoulders. Where possible, make left turns instead of right turns so the tandem can track behind the truck.

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