Hazardous materials are elements that are dangerous and pose a risk to people’s health and safety. Over one billion tons of them are transported across the US in trucks every day. When these eighteen-wheelers and semis get involved in an accident, the injuries and damage to property are far more serious than crashes involving smaller cars. About 200 hazmat-carrying vehicles cause fatal car collisions and 5,000 non-fatal crashes every year.
Examples of hazardous materials are explosives, toxic gases, poisons and radioactive substances. Their dangerous characteristic requires drivers to have a hazardous material endorsement on their commercial driver’s license.
Rules Governing Hazardous Materials
Hazardous materials are subject to their own procedures of loading, transporting and unloading to avoid getting them in contact with people and prevent accidents which can be fatal. The processes aim to enclose the product and serve as a warning of their possible risk, while protecting everyone who comes close to them. Drivers of hazardous materials also have to undergo and pass a security threat assessment as required by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the US Department of Transportation.
A driver is eligible to apply for a Hazardous Materials Endorsement if he/she:
- Has not been found guilty by reason of insanity seven years before the application was filed
- Has not been released from jail five years before applying
- Has not been found guilty by reason of insanity or any permanent disqualifying crime
- Is not on the wanted list or under indictment
However, these requirements do not guarantee that a driver carrying hazardous materials will not meet an accident. If the driver involved does not have the Hazardous Materials Endorsement on his commercial driver’s license, a case can be filed against him and he will be held responsible for the consequences of the accident. The Stephens, Anderson & Cummings law firm has experienced professionals who have handled such cases and can explain to the victims what legal options are open to them.