Truck Accidents and Hazardous MaterialsTrusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. January 11, 2019
Thousands of trucks containing hazardous materials are on the road in Florida on any given day. Depending on the type of hazardous materials being carried, collisions with these trucks can lead to explosions, fires, and even toxic chemical spills. This can result in serious and sometimes deadly injuries to the motorists involved. The industry is highly regulated by the government, and trucking companies who transport these materials are held to a greater safety standard.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) defines hazardous materials as those materials that may 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 solid
- Flammable and combustible liquid
- Oxidizer and organic peroxide
- Toxic Poison
Federal regulations require that trucks transporting hazardous materials have a placard on the truck indicating the type of material being hauled. According to the FMSCA, properly categorizing the type of hazardous material is one of the most important responsibilities of the trucking company. Carriers must also be sure to thoroughly train employees on how to handle the hazardous materials, properly load and unload the materials, and ensure the materials are properly secured.
In addition, drivers who transport hazardous materials must have a special HazMat designation on their commercial driver’s license (CDL). In order to obtain this designation, drivers are required to undergo a medical exam and a fingerprinted background check.
Hazardous Material Trucking Accidents
Despite the seriousness of transporting hazardous materials, some trucking companies and shippers can be careless when it comes to safety. For the fiscal year 2018, the FMSCA found over 43,000 violations in over 200,000 inspections. Violations and common causes of accidents include:
- Failure to properly secure materials—this increases the risk of hazardous materials shifting during transport which can lead to accidents and explosions.
- Driver error—things like driver distraction, driver fatigue, speeding, following too closely, and driving while impaired can all lead to severe accidents.
- 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 trucks—trucks that aren’t properly maintained can cause accidents or lead to leakage of hazardous materials. Trucks should be inspected on a regular basis and in accordance with FMSCA regulations.
Contact a Trusted Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury law firm near you. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-800-538-4878 to schedule your free consultation.