Large commercial trucks present sufficient hazards to other motorists all on their own, without factoring in the dangerous cargoes they carry. Anyone who has been involved in or witnessed a serious commercial truck accident knows how much damage an 80,000 lb. 18-wheeler can cause in a collision with a 3,000 lb. passenger vehicle.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4% of the large trucks involved in fatal accidents in a recent year bore Hazardous Materials (HM) placards, and in 12% of the fatal and nonfatal large truck crashes that year, hazardous materials were released from the cargo compartments of trucks displaying HM placards.
An unusual but startling example of the potential for hazardous cargo harm was the spill of 14 million honey bees on a Washington highway when a semi-truck crashed in April 2015, as reported on MSNBC. The truck driver claimed to have blown a tire, but troopers stated that he was more likely traveling too fast or fell asleep at the wheel, according to the MSNBC report.
The bees were being transported in 458 boxes worth $900 each from Lynden to Sunnydale for the purpose of pollinating a blueberry farm. The clean-up crew after the wreck was able to salvage approximately one-third to one-half of the bees, as stated on MSNBC. Fortunately, in this instance, there were no serious injuries and no fatalities, except for the bees.
FMCSA reports that 76% of the hazardous materials released from cargo compartments in fatal commercial truck collisions in a recent year were flammable liquids, such as gasoline, fuel, and oil. Flammable liquids also accounted for 54% of the hazardous materials released in all nonfatal crashes, as stated by FMCSA.
Regulations for Commercial Transport of Hazardous Materials
FMCSA regulates commercial trucking, including the transport of hazardous materials and dangerous goods. The agency provides access to the hazardous materials (HazMat) rules and regulations on its website, along with a link for consumers to file complaints.
Before transporting certain extremely hazardous materials, a truck driver must obtain a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) through FMCSA. In addition, any person who offers or accepts hazardous materials for transportation in commerce must be registered in conformance with the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
In conjunction with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), FMCSA is focused on cargo tank truck rollover prevention as part of its hazardous materials safety campaign, targeting vehicle performance and design, highway factors, load effects, and driver factors. According to FMCSA, more than 78% of all commercial truck rollovers involve driver error.
Involved in a Truck Accident? Contact Herman, Herman & Katz Today
If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck hauling hazardous cargo, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer. At Herman Herman & Katz, LLC, we have been representing injured Louisiana citizens for more than 70 years.
Our New Orleans injury attorneys know what needs to be done after a truck accident to protect your interests and stand up for your rights against the trucking industry. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.