Trucks that are used to transport hazardous materials pose much greater dangers than do other large trucks, including toxic exposures, fires, environmental damage, and explosions. Because of the risks, trucking carriers must carry higher liability insurance coverage on their hazmat trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the transportation of hazardous materials and it classifies them into nine different categories.
Hazardous Materials Categories
When a truck is transporting a hazardous material, the material and the truck must be properly marked and classified. The FMCSA classifies the materials as explosives, flammable liquids, flammable solids, gases, oxidizers, poisons, radioactive material, corrosives and miscellaneous hazardous materials. By requiring markings on trucks that identify the classes of materials that they are transporting, the FMCSA is trying to make certain that other motorists understand the dangers that the chemicals pose. They also are meant to help first responders and law enforcement officers who respond to truck accidents and spills.
Accident Dangers with Hazmat Trucks
When truck accidents involving trucks that are transporting hazard chemicals happen, spills may occur. The dangers that the chemicals pose to other motorists depend on what they are. Accident victims may suffer chemical burns or thermal burns. They may be injured or killed in explosions, suffer amputations, suffer poisonings or be exposed to cancer-causing agents. In addition, some chemicals that seep into the ground may be radioactive, placing everyone who lives in the area at risk of harm if the chemicals get into the water supply.
Common Hazmat Truck Accident Causes
While accidents may be caused by many different things, there are several common causes of accidents involving trucks carrying hazardous materials. One of the most common problems happens because of improperly securing the material when it is loaded. Loads that are not secured properly may be likelier to spill or to roll away from the truck. If they shift, they may also be likelier to explode. Driver errors are also common causes of hazmat truck accidents. Drivers who turn left too fast, speed, follow other vehicles too closely or drive while they are distracted or impaired place others at risk of accident involvement.
When hazmat accidents happen, the victims may be permanently disabled or disfigured and they may also die. A semi truck accident lawyer represents victims and their families in the recovery of damages from hazmat accidents.