Trucks bring good things. From the fruit we eat to the toys our children play with, consumer goods must travel from points of manufacture to points of retail, or to logistics warehouses for sorting and final delivery to consumers. Likewise, raw materials such as lumber are driven aboard trucks.
What Are Hazardous Materials?
Just like benevolent goods, hazardous materials travel on commercial vehicles. Hazardous materials are defined by 49 U.S.C. 5103 as products that pose a risk to health and safety while being transported in sufficient quantities. In general, materials that are traveling in bulk and are explosive, radioactive, flammable, combustible, toxic, infectious, or corrosive are classified as hazardous materials. One example is gasoline, a highly flammable liquid, traveling aboard a tanker truck to a gas station for resale to consumers.
Sufficiently small quantities of seemingly hazardous materials are not classified as such. One example is a case containing one-thousand rounds of handgun ammunition.
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Regulatory Control of Drivers in Control of Hazmat
By law, any driver transporting hazmat must have a state-issued commercial driver’s license with a hazmat endorsement on it. The hazmat endorsement signifies that the driver has completed extensive training in the transportation of such materials and has passed tests to prove competence. Courses given to these drivers include such topics as safe storage tank inspection and operation procedures, response to spills and other critical incidents, and awareness of security risks. At times, special permits are required to transport explosives and certain bulk waste.
Drivers of hazmat are subject to stricter and more numerous driving laws such as the requirement to stop before crossing all train tracks and must obey routing orders in avoidance of forbidden zones.
In order to be considered for a hazmat endorsement, drivers must be fingerprinted and pass a comprehensive security clearance conducted by the Transportation Security Administration.
Certain criminal convictions disqualify a person from possessing a hazmat endorsement on his license.
Because of inherent dangers associated with leakage and physical surging, special training and license endorsements are required for transportation of large quantities of liquids, whether classified as hazardous or not.
Accidents Involving Hazmat
At the heart of the laws governing hazmat transportation is the danger presented by the material and an effort to ameliorate the risk posed by possible mishaps. Modern man has learned that what can go wrong will, at times, go wrong, and when trucks transporting hazmat crash, large numbers of people can be put at risk by events such as the release of toxic chemicals. While regulations are strictly followed by the vast majority of transportation workers, some inevitably will cut corners in attempts to save time and money and allow the existence of unsafe conditions in storage equipment or vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an accident involving the release of hazardous material, learn your rights and understand your ability to recover for damages. Regardless of the cause of the accident, the carrier of hazmat might be at fault for the release of noxious materials. Call the experienced accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Roger Ghai, P.C. for a confidential consultation.