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Dangers of Hazardous Material Truck Crashes

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susan_harr6 years ago

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), every day in the United States there are more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials (hazmat) in trucks. Trucks carrying hazardous materials pose a real threat to motorists because of the cargo they carry. Types of hazardous materials include anything from hair spray and perfumes, to gasoline and other poisonous, explosive, and radioactive materials.

Hazmat Facts

FMCSA maintains that crashes involving large trucks-those with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds-carrying hazardous materials are relatively rare- less than 10% of truck shipments include hazmat as all or part of the cargo load and less than 5% of large truck crashes involve trucks carrying hazmat. However, in 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) reported:

  • 21 Incidents of Environmental Damage
  • 5 Explosions
  • 20 Fires
  • 21 Incidents of material entering a Waterway/Sewer
  • 4837 Spills
  • 159 Vapor (Gas) Dispersions
  • These combined incidents resulted in 15 deaths and millions of dollars in damages

Hazmat Safety Concerns

FMCSA explains that “the unique highway safety concern involving trucks carrying hazmat is the release of cargo that can cause injury or death to those who may come in contact with the hazmat.” Nonhazardous cargo, like steel coils, rods etc., can cause serious injury if spilled or released during a crash, but hazmat creates an additional risk of exposure to explosions, fire, or inhaling toxic fumes.

According to the FMCSA report, about 200 hazmat trucks a year are involved in fatal crashes and 5,000 in nonfatal crashes. These numbers are low compared to the annual truck crash totals (almost 5,000 trucks involved in fatal crashes and 400,000 involved in nonfatal crashes). Yet, the potential for human injury and property damage in hazmat crashes is much greater because hazardous cargo can do more harm to motorists than a truck by itself.

Contact an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney

Thomas J. Henry are available to respond to trucking accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition, or acquiring, of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact us, we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.


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