Miami firefighters and fire departments rely on tanker trucks to save lives and put out fires. While tankers do help Florida fire departments fight blazes, these trucks are also a hazard on the roads and are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents, when one considers how few tankers there are. According to experts, there are a few basic things that make these tankers so likely to contribute to Florida truck accidents:
1) Conversion problems. Many Florida fire departments purchase tankers used. In many cases, departments convert trucks which were originally meant to carry other materials, such as gas. When the tankers are converted for the use of fire departments, however, it can be difficult to determine how much the tankers can carry. The tankers may indicate how much gas they can carry, for example, but water weighs more. With no clear guidelines, it is easy to make a mistake and overload the tankers, which can lead to Miami rollover accidents and other traffic accidents. Converting a tanker can also lead to problems with chassis weight ratings. In addition, some fire departments add a tanker to a flatbed or add a hosebed on a used truck, altering the center of gravity and making the truck more prone to rollovers.
2) Driver issues. Tankers require extensive training, yet in many fire departments are considered merely support vehicles. As a result, in many cases the tanker is the most dangerous vehicle at the average fire department but is often driven by the least experienced driver. Tankers have loads that shift and tend to have higher centers of gravity. These unique conditions mean that any driver who drives a tanker should be given on the road and classroom training before being allowed to drive a tanker.
3) High speed. Fire departments need to limit the speed of tankers, because these vehicles are prone to rollovers. Trying to drive too fast in a tanker truck is likely to result in a Miami truck accident as the tanker driver is likely to lose control of the vehicle at higher speeds. The Insurance Services Office places tanker speed limits at 35 mph.
4) Seatbelt issues. Even if the tanker driver does everything right, other motorists can drive recklessly and cause a Miami car accident. It is important to ensure that everyone on a tanker wears the appropriate safety belts. If a fire department buys a tanker second-hand, the tanker should be equipped with seat belts, preferably, a modern three-point safety restraint.
5) Lack of guides. Side dump valves can ensure that tankers need to back up less often. However, since tankers have so many blind spots, it is imperative to have someone on the ground guiding the tank driver during any attempt at backing up. Failure to do so can easily result in a Miami pedestrian accident.
6) Not following rules. Under NFPA 1901, tankers are subject to many rules concerns the cab, chassis, and all elements of the tanker. It is important for fire departments to study and follow these rules to prevent needless tragedy. Under NFPA 1911, tankers are subject to regular testing. In addition to required testing, fire departments should create and stick to a regular maintenance schedule to keep all tankers safe.
If you have been injured in a Florida truck accident involving a fire department vehicle, you will need an experienced attorney to pursue your case. The Flaxman Law Group has successfully represented thousands of personal injury victims in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, and throughout South Florida. Put our aggressive trial experience to work for you. Contact the Flaxman Law Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.