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Accident Report Detail

Union Oil Company of California, Tank Truck and Full Trailer Overturn and Fire

Executive Summary

‚ÄčAbout 1 a.m. on December 4, 1975, a 1975 Peterbilt tank truck and a 1970 Peerless full trailer (tank), owned by Union Oil Company of California, went out of control on the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, Washington, as the driver attempted to negotiate a curve on the traffic-polished concrete roadway at 52 mph and during a rainstorm. The combination vehicle jackknifed and the trailer struck a viaduct support column. The trailer's tank ruptured and its cargo of gasoline spilled. Fire ensued, spread along the viaduct, and spilled to the ground below, where it ignited 4 railroad freight cars, 30 motor vehicles, and adjacent buildings. The accident caused property damage estimated at $750,000. Two firemen were injured while fighting the fire.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the driver to reduce the speed of the combination vehicle to permit safe negotiation of the curve under existing road and weather conditions. Contributing to the loss of vehicle control was the marginal traction capability of the pavement for the posted speed limit.

Accident Location: Seattle , WA    
Accident Date: 12/4/1975
Accident ID: 80028

Date Adopted: 7/28/1976
NTSB Number: HAR-76-07
NTIS Number: PB-257913/AS

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