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Keeping the dirty side down

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - If you operate a Ready-Mixed concrete fleet, the odds are greater of rolling a truck than winning money in Vegas. That's what one would gather after a highly unscientific poll conduc...


LAS VEGAS, Nev. – If you operate a Ready-Mixed concrete fleet, the odds are greater of rolling a truck than winning money in Vegas. That’s what one would gather after a highly unscientific poll conducted at an educational session on truck rollovers at CONEXPO-CON/AGG (about one in 10 attendees admitted to having a rollover within the past year – far more than the show of hands when asked who had won money during their visit to Sin City).

For the first time, there are some hard numbers about truck rollovers in the ready-mixed industry – south of the border at least.

The National Ready-Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) has conducted a study of 136 rollovers involving ready-mixed trucks. The study found ready-mixed trucks can be rolled at speeds of as little as 12 miles per hour and “You can roll them driving straight on a sunny day,” warns Gary Mullings of the NRMCA.

The association insists the majority of rollovers are entirely preventable and urges its member fleets to implement a rollover prevention program within their fleets.

“The real key to rollover prevention is constant reminders,” Mullings said.

“I like to think that all rollovers can be prevented. Will we stop all rollovers? Probably not. But can they all be prevented? Yes.”

The NRMCA study suggested loss of focus on the part of the driver is the number one cause of truck rollovers.

Of the 136 rollovers looked at by NRMCA, more than half of them resulted in injuries and two per cent involved fatalities. Rollovers occurred at a variety of places including job sites, city streets, rural highways and freeway ramps.

Mullings said it’s amazing so few truck drivers wear seatbelts, as the study clearly showed injuries happened far more frequently to drivers who weren’t strapped in.

Another leading cause of injuries during truck rollovers is flying debris in the cab, and that can be just as hazardous to a driver who is buckled in.

Attendees from leading ready-mixed concrete fleets suggested providing a five-gallon bucket (or other type of “ditty bag”) for their drivers to store items in and then permanently affixing it to the cab floor.

Of the trucks that were cornering during the rollover, all of them were turning right at the time and most were travelling too fast for the road conditions.

“We didn’t tell you the driver was going too fast, he was going too fast for the road conditions and there’s a big difference,” Mullings pointed out.

He adds the speed advisory signs are intended for cars and truck driver should take corners at 10-15 mph less than the signs suggest – especially when they’re hauling a constantly rotating load.

The panel said job site rollovers can generally be prevented if the driver walks the site first and follows the one-for-one rule (remaining one foot away from the edge of a trench for every one foot of trench depth).

“We all know how the customer can be, but we really have to drill it into their head that it’s one foot for one foot,” stresses Tom Harman of the NRMCA.

Better yet, he said truckers should back up to the trench rather than park parallel to it whenever possible.

If a trucker feels the truck begin to lose contact with the ground, Mullings said the driver should slow down, straighten the wheels, regain control and then apply the brakes.

In addition to teaching drivers how to prevent rollovers in the first place, Mullings said it’s equally important to teach them what to do if they do end up on their lid.

In the past, drivers have been killed upon exiting the vehicle before it was stabilized.

“The safest place to be is inside that truck, buckled in until the truck is stable,” stressed Harman. Once the truck is stabilized, drivers should climb out the passenger side door if possible.

Surprisingly, most of the rollovers examined in the study occurred on rural highways.

Even more surprising is the fact the majority of the trucks that were rolled were not being operated by rookie drivers. Harman attributes this to what he calls “Superman Syndrome” – the overconfidence of experienced drivers who continue to push the envelope and try to take corners just a little bit faster than the last time .


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