Accidents involving automobiles and big trucks are among the most devastating on the U.S. highways because of the weight and size of big rigs. Add hazardous materials to a truck involved in an accident, and the potential for greater injury, catastrophic property damage and the public safety become credible concerns.
More than 800,000 18-wheelers carry more than 1 billion tons of hazardous materials on our highways every single day. Annually, an estimated 200 trucks hauling hazardous materials are involved in fatal car accidents and 5,000 more are involved in non-fatal car accidents.
The dangers of a hazmat trucking accident
Here are some reasons why hazmat trucks involved in an accident can be so dangerous.
- If the truck is carrying liquids, especially if the hazardous materials are oil-based, and there is a spill, slippery road conditions are a real and sudden danger for other motorists.
- A rollover or a jackknife accident can occur with tanker trucks carrying liquids, because the truck’s center of gravity can be thrown off when the liquid moves. Nearby vehicles could be well within the radius of such an accident.
- Hazardous materials on the road can expose motorists and the public to toxic air and cause serious injuries and health issues.
- Hazmat accidents can be devastating. Injuries can include serious burns, asphyxiation, disfigurement, respiratory problems, neurological conditions, and death.
What types of hazardous materials do big rigs haul?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognizes nine classes of hazardous materials.
- Flammable liquid
- Flammable solids and spontaneously combustible materials
- Oxidizers and organic peroxides
- Toxic materials and infectious substances
- Radioactive materials
- Corrosive materials
- Miscellaneous: this includes a range of other materials, including lithium batteries, and dry ice
Federal regulations for transporting hazardous cargo
The U.S. government regulates all transport of hazardous cargo, whether it is on a truck or in a railway car. Here are some of the specific rules that must be followed:
- The hauler must identify as hazardous and place appropriate signage on all sides of the truck, to warn other drivers.
- The cargo must be properly handled, loaded and secured.
- Trucks carrying hazardous cargo are prohibited from traveling on certain roads where transportation of dangerous material is considered a public safety hazard.
- Trucks with dangerous cargo cannot park within five feet of a public road.
- Certain particularly hazardous types of cargo must be monitored at all times.
- Truck drivers hauling hazardous materials are required to be educated on how to properly transport the cargo.
If you are the victim of a trucking accident involving hazardous materials, please call us. There are many state and federal laws that come into play with such accidents, and you would benefit from a personal injury law firm that is familiar with all the legal and medical complexities.
If you have questions about this article or any other questions related to personal injury law, please call us toll free at 1-800-LAW-1333. Our personal injury consultations are always free.
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