Truckers transporting hazardous materials have an additional responsibility to drive safely, because their cargo could cause health and safety hazards beyond the immediate effects of the accident. For that reason, trucking companies responsible for shipping hazardous waste and other dangerous materials are subjected to additional regulations meant to prevent unnecessary risks.
Trucking companies handling hazardous materials (HAZ MAT) are required to:
- Train and certify their drivers in HAZMAT transportation.
- Make sure all HAZMAT is physically marked according to its class and dangers.
- Take extra care packing HAZMAT to prevent leaks and spills.
- Maintain an emergency response plan to contain and safely handle any spills that occur.
To keep gases and liquids safe, most truckers choose to transport them by tanker. Tankers handle differently than other tractor-trailers, which is why drivers must be specially certified to drive them.
Even though they are chosen for safety purposes, tankers can also create several additional risks. Tanker trucks are three times more likely to rollover, even before the truck hits a vehicle or another obstacle. When you consider the number of tanker trucks that are carrying dangerous and deadly cargo, this statistic can be extremely troubling.
Despite all of the additional precautions, HAZMAT trucks are still more likely to have a cargo spill than regular tractor-trailers. Once hazardous substances are exposed to the elements, they can cause irreparable harm to area fish and wildlife, water sources and people who live and work nearby.
On June 3, a truck driven by a reckless driver flipped and crashed, spreading 18 tons of human waste across the road and roadside. The driver, Jack Stalley, was reportedly speeding when he tried to exit Interstate 77 in Fort Mill and lost control.
The waste, which was being transported from a Charlotte municipal treatment plant to a Columbia landfill, had already been treated and was not hazardous to emergency responders. Officials shut the road down, and called in heavy equipment to scoop the mess into another truck.
Stalley was uninjured, but he was ticketed for excessive speed.
The sewage was treated in this accident, and was quickly contained and removed. Not all chemical spills are cleaned so neatly and efficiently. The potential for groundwater contamination and the disturbance of nearby wildlife is a risk that should be considered in every HAZMAT spill.
Trucking Accident Lawyer in Columbia, SC
HAZMAT truckers are responsible for hundreds of lives because of the loads they carry. This driver’s decision to speed cost him his load, but it could easily have cost him or other drivers their lives under different circumstances.
At Proffitt & Cox, we believe in holding reckless truck drivers responsible for their careless decisions, because mistakes can kill. Call us to discuss your trucking accident. Our lawyers are dedicated to keeping the roads safe for South Carolina drivers.
[Did You Know: HAZMAT trucks have a 35 percent chance of spilling their cargo, whereas regular tractor-trailers have a 20 percent chance.]
Proffitt & Cox, LLP – Columbia Injury Lawyer