The term HAZMAT refers to hazardous materials and items. There are a huge variety of items classified as Hazmat, from various chemical products to biological waste products. Hazmat products must be transported in many cases and they are often moved on trucks.
Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that a crash involving a truck carrying Hazmat material can be devastating. Not only could the truck accident cause injury to the parties involved but the release of hazardous materials could do widespread and lasting damage. To protect the public and to ensure that the transport of hazardous materials is as safe as possible, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules for Hazmat transportations.
FMCSA Hazmat Rules Aim to Ensure Safety
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes regulations and requirements on truck drivers throughout the United States. They address Hazmat Transportations in sections 385-397 of their regulations.
These regulations address safety fitness procedures; rules of practice for companies and drivers transporting hazardous material; general regulations; and driving and parking rules for those engaged in the transportation of hazardous materials.
Some of the requirements and provisions found within these regulations include:
- Methods of determining a safety rating. The FMCSA will conduct a compliance review of companies transporting hazardous goods and, within 30 days, will issue a safety rating following the Safety Fitness Rating Methodology. Motor carriers who receive an unsatisfactory safety rating will be prohibited from operating any type of commercial motor vehicle.
- Rules mandating that commercial motor vehicles containing certain types of hazardous materials are prohibited from parking within five feet of the traveled portion of a public street or highway. They are also prohibited from parking on private property or within 300 feet of bridges, workplaces, tunnels or dwellings unless it is necessary to park there for a brief period to perform required operations.
- A requirement that motor carriers carrying hazardous materials use a placard or have sufficient markings.
- A requirement that motor carriers with certain hazardous materials arrange a route that avoids heavily populated areas, places with large crowds, alleys and narrow streets unless it is an emergency or unless there is no practical alternative.
- A mandate that drivers of vehicles carrying hazardous materials must inspect the tires of the vehicle when beginning each trip and whenever the vehicle is parked. If the inspection reveals that there is a problem, then repair of the defect is required and should be performed at the nearest safe location.
These are just a few of the many requirements that FMCSA has proposed in order to ensure that drivers are as safe as possible in transporting hazardous goods. The regulations address maintenance of the trucks, driver behavior, and routes in order to ensure that safety is the number one priority from the start to the end of the trip.