The Economics of Designing a Safe Propane Tanker for Use on U.S. Highways

Approximately every three years a 65,000 lb propane tractor-trailer crashes resulting in explosion that usually kills several people. The study presented in this paper first simulates the effects observed at one of these accident sites. Then a variety of options where explored to determine how to improve the crash worthiness of the tanker for several crash scenarios. The result of this work illustrated that for less than $20,000 the velocity that would cause failure could be raised from 20 mph to over 55 mph through the use of energy absorbing materials. But even at this cost it was determined by the Corporate Captains of business, that it was cheaper to leave the current designs on the road since the total cost of the damages and litigations was significantly less than cost of adding the crushable material to the front of each tanker.

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