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The Hazards of Hazardous Cargo


It is estimated that there are over 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials traveling America's roads every day of the week. Most of these trips are uneventful. However, there are still nearly 17,000 incidents and accidents each year. When these accidents occur, they cause considerable damage and create considerable threats to property and public health.

Such was the case when a truck carrying chlorine tabs was involved in an accident on I-24. The accident forced law enforcement to evacuate the area until the spill could be cleaned up and the risk of a potentially lethal chlorine gas cloud abated.

Types of Hazardous Cargo

Hazardous cargo comes in many forms. In America, the most common types of hazardous cargo include the following:

  • Gasoline
  • Heating Oil
  • Flammable & Non-Flammable Gasses
  • Pesticides
  • Compressed Gases

Other hazardous cargos include radioactive materials and waste, medicines, combustibles, oxidizers, and organic peroxides.

Strict Rules for Hazardous Cargo Carriers

Companies that transport hazardous cargo are required to adhere to strict transportation rules. These rules govern the following:

  • Handling, loading, and securing the cargo so that it doesn't shift or spill in transit.
  • Prohibitions on transit routes including areas where transit of toxic materials could pose a risk to public health.
  • Monitoring of cargo. Some types of cargo may require continual monitoring throughout the journey.
  • Proper education for drivers related to the specific type of cargo and proper care that must be taken to protect the public from harm.

Determining Liability

Depending on the cause of the accident, a semi-truck accident lawyer can pursue liability for an accident involving hazardous chemicals on the following:

  • The Driver. In many cases, it is driver error or negligent actions such as speeding that leads to an accident involving hazardous chemicals.
  • The Truck Company. The company can be held liable if they deliberately ignore safety precautions regarding handling, loading, or transport. They may also be found liable if they ignore maintenance or eschew the use of safety features or record keeping as required by law.
  • The Manufacturer. The manufacturer o a cargo can be found liable if they are responsible for packaging or loading the cargo.
  • The State. This is possible if the accident was caused in full or in part by poor road maintenance. Poor conditions include factors such as potholes, soft shoulders that aren't marked, bridge failures, failure to clear roads in inclement weather, etc.

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