One of the few things worse than a collision with a truck is a collision with a truck that is transporting hazardous materials. Thousands of trucks containing hazardous materials are on the road on any given day. Depending on the type of material being carried, collisions can lead to fires, explosions, and toxic chemical spills. This can result in serious and even deadly injuries to the motorists involved. That’s why the industry is highly regulated, and trucking companies are held to a greater safety standard.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has defined hazardous materials as those that can pose an unreasonable threat to the health and safety of people and the environment. The FMSCA has broken down hazardous materials into nine categories.
- Flammable and combustible liquid
- Flammable solid
- Oxidizer and organic peroxide
- Poison (Toxic)
Federal regulationsrequire that trucks hauling hazardous material have a placard on the truck indicating the type of material being transported. According to the FMSCA properly classifying the kind of hazardous material is the most important responsibility of the trucking company. Carriers must also thoroughly train employees on how to handle the materials, properly load and unload the materials, and make sure the materials are properly secured.
In addition, drivers who transport hazardous material must have a special HazMat designation on their commercial driver’s license (CDL). In order to obtain this designation drivers must undergo a medical exam and a fingerprinted background check.
Causes of Hazardous Material Trucking Accidents
Despite the seriousness of transporting dangerous hazardous materials, some trucking companies and shippers are careless when it comes to safety. So far in 2018, the FMSCA found over 33,000 violations out of 161,000 HazMat inspections. Violations and causes of accidents include:
- Failure to properly secure the hazardous material—this increases the risk of materials shifting during transport which can lead to accidents and explosions.
- Driver error—driver distraction, speeding, following too closely and driving while impaired can all lead to serious accidents. Drivers must also comply with FMSCA driving hour requirements to prevent fatigued driving.
- Failure to properly train drivers and other employees—drivers who transport hazardous materials should receive specialized training, as should any employees who load and unload the cargo.
- Failure to properly maintain and inspect the trucks—this can lead to accidents or leakage of hazardous materials. Trucks should be inspected on a regular basis in accordance with FMSCA regulations.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a hazmat truck, you should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New Yorkers injured in truck accidents. Contact us onlineor call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.