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George Fusner
George Fusner
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Semi-Truck Gas Tank Design Flaw

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As an experienced truck accident attorney, many cases I see are related to the negligence of a semi truck driver, their company, violations of the FMCSR or another party. Truck driving is a very dangerous line of work for drivers too, and there are design flaws which only make it more dangerous.

In 2002, truck driving was one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America, and little has changed since then. Two serious design flaws only worsen the occupational risk:

First, Fuel tanks. In almost every semi truck, fuel tanks are located on the outside of the frames (“saddled”). There is a dangerous misconception that since diesel fuel takes more heat to combust than gasoline (a spark may not be enough to ignite diesel), that it’s safe to be exposed. WRONG! Even though it takes more heat to combust diesel fuel, a vehicle striking it on the side could be more than enough to rupture and explode a 100+ gallon fuel tank.

This danger could be averted by moving the fuel tanks to inside the truck frame. But sadly the manufacturers seem more contempt paying out wrongful injury/death suits when someone is hurt or killed. Many new semi’s have coverings over the fuel tanks. That may help to some degree, but the coverings are often plastic or thin metal, not nearly enough to really protect the tank from a collision.

Another design flaw is the cab support. For years a semi cab would crumple flat if turned upside down. Truck drivers used to joke that the only way to survive the crash was to jump out of the cab mid roll. Hundreds of wrongful death lawsuits later, manufacturers have gotten better about reinforcing the cabs. Rollovers are still one of the leading causes of trucker deaths, though.

While I often represent those injured by trucker negligence, it’s not uncommon to see a truck driver a victim of defective vehicle designs.