What Every Trucker Needs to Know About Dropping a Loaded Tanker Trailer

Tanker Trailer Tipping Over in Yard

Peterbilt Big Rig Truck with Double Tanker TrailersWe are of the opinion that it’s risky to drop a loaded tanker trailer, however, your company may ask you to do so.

Often, tanker companies hire calmer, more experienced and skilled drivers, as they can’t afford to make mistakes.

Following is an example of an experienced trucker being asked to drop a loaded tanker trailer and how he completed his task safely.

Moving away from a dropped trailer is critical for safety

Ever get tired of hearing that phrase,

‘when dropping a trailer, always ease out from underneath it slowly, after uncoupling?’

It’s a vitally important safety rule that a trucker should always follow and here’s why.

Why dropping a loaded tanker trailer isn’t safe

Tanker trailers aren’t built to be dropped loaded, due to the fact most tankers have no sub-frame. Most companies want the trailer to be as light as possible, so they can get as much pay load onto the trailer as possible.

On freight boxes and reefer trailers, there is a frame and cross members which help to distribute the weight over the entire length and width of the trailer.

Tankers don’t have this sub frame to distribute the weight. Therefore, all the weight is on the landing gear.

Further, the landing gear is usually spec’ed light, as it is only intended to support an empty trailer. This is so the company can maximize the tare weight. There the landing gear itself is not weight rated to support a loaded trailer.

Related > 10 Safety Tips Every Professional Driver Should Follow 

An example of a trucker safely dropping a loaded tanker trailer

A trucker was dropping his loaded tanker, as per instructions. After unhooking the trailer, he slowly and gradually pulled out from underneath his loaded tanker truck.

The driver, watching in his mirror as he pulled out, with his window down, was able to see and hear what was happening to the trailer and stopped.  One of the legs on the landing gear had broken and buckled.

Tanker Trailer Tipping Over

The Tanker Trailer is in Trouble

What could have happened if the trucker wasn’t safety conscious

The potential for damage in this situation was huge. The tanker would have hit the trailer beside it on its way down. After damaging the other trailer, the tanker would have continued its left sided nose dive to the ground, possible rolling on its side.

The trailer would have punctured and started to leak product – disaster!

Related > How To Scale a Tractor Trailer in a Few Simple Steps

Being safety conscious prevents disaster

The driver’s quick action prevented an environmental disaster from the leaking load, damage to both the tanker and the trailer next to it and the costs of expensive cleanup, wrecker’s bills, insurance claims and possible lawsuits from the neighbours.

Sometimes damage from not unhooking carefully can be as simple as breaking off a forgotten air line, but sometimes the extra time and caution can literally save thousands of dollars in damages.

Tanker Trailer Tipping Over in Yard

A View of the Leaning Trailer

3 steps every trucker should remember when dropping a loaded tanker trailer

  1. After the landing gear is down, pull the truck ahead very slowly, until it uncouples from the king pin and the trailer settles from behind the frame rails, onto the ground
  2. Dumping the tractor air will allow more of the trailer weight to then settle on the landing gear.
  3. Be sure after dumping the air, that the trailer king pin will clear any cross members on the tractor before pulling ahead, all the way out from under the trailer.

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What this example says about the value of an experienced and skilled trucker

This real-life example is a good reason why it pays a trucking company to hire experienced and skilled truck drivers. This single incident alone saved this company tens of thousands of dollars, if not

If the driver had NOT been paying attention, this situation would have been deemed a preventable accident in an extremely expensive insurance claim. Costly for the company and most likely the owner operator, too.

You could sometime find yourself in a situation where you’re asked to drop a loaded tanker trailer. Remember to keep calm and remember the steps you learned in this article.

Incidents in trucking happen every day, often with expensive consequences. There really is no substitute, for a trucker that moves slowly and methodically when faced with a risky task.

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