Highway Accident Report

Adopted: June 22, 1982
PACIFIC INTERMOUNTAIN EXPRESS
TRACTOR CARGO TANK SEMITRAILER
EAGLE/ F. B. TRUCK LINES, INC.,
TRACTOR LOWBOY SEMITRAILER
COLLISION AND FIRE
U.S. ROUTE 50,
NEAR CANON CITY, COLORADO
NOVEMBER 14, 1981

NTSB Number: HAR-82/03
NTIS Number: PB82-916203


SYNOPSIS

About 8:10 a.m., m.s.t., on November 14, 1981, a westbound tractor cargo tank semitrailer loaded with approximately 9,000 gallons of gasoline sideswiped an eastbound tractor-lowboy semitrailer while attempting to negotiate a right-hand curve on a three-lane highway near Canon City, Colorado. When the cargo tank of the westbound vehicle was punctured during impact, fire erupted and rapidly engulfed the two accident vehicles and a passenger car not involved in the impact. In addition to extensive property damage, eight vehicle occupants were killed and two seriously injured as a result of the postcrash fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the Pacific Intermountain Express truckdriver to maintain his vehicle within the proper traffic lane during an evasive maneuver in a right curve at a speed in excess of the vehicle's critical overturn stability. Contributing to the driver's loss of control was the driver's cumulative fatigue. Contributing to the accident severity and loss of life were the puncture of the cargo tank and the ignition of the released gasoline cargo immediately following impact.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following recommendations:

to the Pacific Intermountain Express Company:

Establish qualifications and standard procedures for selecting new hire hazardous material drivers, and insure that the established qualifications and procedures are adhered to before a driver is allowed to perform driving duties. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-82-19)

Incorporate in its Driver's Manual for the Bulk Commodity Division, a requirement for drivers transporting bulk hazardous materials to promptly report the receipt of specified traffic citations, and a statement of company policy as to disciplinary actions which will be taken in the event of speeding or other unsafe driving practices. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-82-20)

to the National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc.:

Disseminate to its membership, especially hazardous material carriers, the circumstances of this accident and urge the member companies to establish qualifications and standard procedures for selecting new operators of hazardous material vehicles. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-82-21)
In addition to these recommendations, the Safety Board reiterates and urges expedited action on the previous recommendation made to the Federal Highway Administration on February 15, 1980, concerning disqualification rules for driver of commercial vehicles transporting hazardous materials and other commodities:

Evaluate the need for, and feasibility of, specifying in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations a threshold level of traffic violations, based upon the total number and relative seriousness of the violations, above which a driver is disqualified to operate a commercial vehicle, and within 1 year publish the findings of the evaluation in the Federal Register for public comment or initiate appropriate rulemaking. (H-80-17)