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Despite Additional Safety Precautions, Trucks Hauling Hazardous Materials Do Not Appear Much Safer Than Other Commercial Vehicles

Hazardous Materials

Last month we told you about Roadcheck 2014, the 3-days of surprise roadside inspections of semi-trucks conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in conjunction with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (see Summer Semi Inspection Blitz Pulls Nearly 14,000 Trucks Out of Service for Safety Violations). That event resulted in 18.7% of the tractor-trailers inspected being pulled from service due to safety violations, such as out-of-adjustment brakes or tire/wheel violations. In addition, 4.8% of truckers inspected were also placed out of service for driver’s license violations, falsified logbooks, and other serious safety errors.

Surprisingly, the inspection rate for trucks hauling hazardous materials or transporting dangerous goods (HM/TDG) was not much better. Sixteen percent of the 5,738 HM/TDG vehicles inspected were actually pulled for out-of-service violations, as were three percent of the HM/TDG truckers.

The FMCSA definition of Hazardous Materials includes hazardous wastes; explosives; flammable liquids, solids and gases; toxic, poisonous materials; infectious substances; corrosives; radioactive material; and “miscellaneous dangerous goods.” Additional FMCSA regulations specific to HM/TDG vehicles includes special driving and parking rules, specific paperwork and rules for securing loads, placards and signage, and vehicle safety, as well as a special set of credentials required for truckers hauling hazardous materials. It is a wonder, then, that the HM/TDG trucks did not fare better during the Roadcheck inspections. Truck accidents are serious enough without the added danger of widespread catastrophe from a collision with a semi hauling hazardous material.

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