On October 9, 1997, about 12:10 a.m., a truck tractor pulling a cargo tank semitrailer was going under an overpass of the New York State Thruway when it was struck by a sedan. The car hit the right side of the cargo tank in the area of the tank's external loading/unloading lines, releasing the gasoline they contained. The ensuing fire destroyed both vehicles and the overpass; the thruway remained closed for approximately 6 months. The driver of the car was killed; the driver of the truck was not injured. Property damage was estimated at $7 million.
The safety issue discussed in this report is the danger of operating a truck when its cargo tank's loading lines are carrying hazardous materials.
As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a safety recommendation to the Secretary of Transportation.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the car driver to (1) stop for the red light or (2) reduce his speed or (3) apply his brakes soon enough to avoid the collision. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the fire resulting from the release of gasoline that the cargo tank's loading lines were carrying, as permitted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendation.
To the Secretary of Transportation:
Prohibit the carrying of hazardous materials in external piping of cargo tanks, such as loading lines, that may be vulnerable to failure in an accident. (H-98-27)