Federal Trucking Requirements for Hazmat Cargo
All large trucks, such as big rigs, semis, and tractor-trailers, are required by law to comply with certain safety standards put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
On top of these blanket rules, there are additional regulations that exist when truck drivers and trucking companies are transporting hazardous or otherwise dangerous materials.
Hazardous Material (HM) Regulations
In accordance with HM permitting regulations, trucks must first obtain a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) before transporting certain materials, including:
A highway route-controlled quantity of a radioactive material
More than 55 pounds of explosive material
More than one liter per package of a "material poisonous by inhalation," that meets the criteria for "hazard zone A";
A "material poisonous by inhalation," that meets the criteria for "hazard zone B” in a bulk packaging with a capacity equal to or greater than 119 gallons
A "material poisonous by inhalation," that meets the criteria for "hazard zone C," or "hazard zone D," in a bulk packaging with a capacity equal to or greater than 3,500 gallons
A shipment of compressed or refrigerated liquefied methane or liquefied natural gas, or other liquefied gas with a methane content of at least 85 percent, in a bulk packaging having a capacity equal to or greater than 3,500 gallons
It is the responsibility of the trucking company to determine what category a specific material falls into and follow regulations accordingly.
Under regulations regarding state and local ordinances, each state has the right to designate certain roads upon which hazardous cargo may not be driven if it is proven that such a measure will improve overall safety.
Many trucks are interstate transportation vehicles, which means that truck drivers and companies must be aware of which roads they may and may not used to transport hazardous cargo.
Truck Drivers Monitoring Hazmat Material
Stringent regulations require truck drivers to monitor trucks carrying hazardous materials. According to Section 397.5 of FMCSA Safety Regulations, a truck is considered “attended” only if the driver is “awake, and not in sleeper berth, or must be within 100 feet of the vehicle and have a clear unobstructed field of view.”
A “qualified representative” can attend the vehicle during a driver’s sleep break if the individual:
Has been designated to attend the truck
Knows that the truck contains hazardous cargo
Has been instructed in emergency procedures
Is authorized to move the vehicle and has the means and ability to do so
Additionally, a truck is considered attended if it is parked on the trucking company’s property or the property of the cargo shipper.
Hazardous Material Responsibility
The FMCSA breaks down specific duties of responsibility for both carriers and shippers of hazardous material:
Determine whether a material meets the definition of a “hazardous material”
Proper shipping name and label
Hazard warning label
Packaging and marketing
Emergency response information and phone numbers
Placard and mark vehicle
Loading and unloading
Blocking and bracing
Proving Liability After a Hazmat Accident
Truck drivers and their respective trucking companies who fail to adhere to these regulations are in noncompliance with federal regulations and put everyone on the road at risk. If an accident occurs involving one of these hazmat vehicles, negligent parties can be held liable.
If you’re injured in a hazmat trucking accident, you need legal representation immediately. There are many factors that may determine who exactly is at fault for the accident, and you may be entitled to compensation for your damages, including:
Future medical expenses
Lost earning capacity
Our team of legal advocates will work on your behalf to determine the exact cause of your trucking accident and fight for your full financial recovery.
Contact The Law Offices of Tyler & Peery at (210) 774-6445 to get started on your trucking accident case today.