The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a subset of the United States Department of Transportation. FMCSA establishes regulations for every aspect of trucking safety, including the transportation of hazardous materials.
It is possible to transport these highly volatile substances safely if FMCSA regulations are followed. A violation of the agency’s hazardous material regulations can greatly increase the resulting damages in the event of a truck accident.
Proper Packaging and Labeling
Before hazardous materials are loaded onto a truck, they must be properly labeled. If a truck carrying hazardous materials is involved in a collision, proper labels and documents give first responders the information they need.
Documentation of hazardous materials must include information such as:
- Type of substance
- Quantity and size information
- FMCSA-defined “hazard class”
- Shipping information
- Other descriptors
Truckers who plan on transporting a hazardous substance must obtain a safety permit to do so. Permits are required for the transportation of radioactive materials, explosives, methane, and other toxic chemicals.
To receive for a permit, a driver and their employer must be insured, have completed the proper training, have safety ratings in good standing, and meet other qualifications that prove they are able to transport hazardous materials safely. A permit can be revoked or suspended if the holder falsifies information, does not have sufficient safety and security planes, or otherwise fails to meet the necessary qualifications.
Loading and Unloading
Any type of truck cargo — even materials that are not hazardous — must be safely loaded and unloaded onto the vehicles. Improperly loaded and secured cargo can cause significant damage, especially if the cargo contains hazardous materials. FMCSA and state-established regulations define weight limits and securement processes for all types of cargo.
Penalties for Hazardous Material Violations
Truckers who are at fault for a collision may be involved in a personal injury case and can also face penalties if the accident was caused by a violation. Drivers are required to report any incident in which a hazardous material causes contamination, injury, or death, and could be liable for a violation even if harm does not result (for example, if the information on their safety permit is inaccurate but does not result in an accident). Penalties for hazardous material violations may include fines, suspension, or the revocation of permits or licenses.
The Martin Jean & Jackson legal team represents people who have been injured in truck accidents. We understand the complexities of truck accidents — we are dedicated to identifying the full scope of a driver’s negligence and helping victims recover the compensation they deserve.
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