Cargo Truck Loads Increase Accident Dangers
Cargo trucks crisscross Florida interstates and highways, hauling everything from consumer goods and building materials to potentially hazardous substances such as oil and gas. While there are strict federal regulations in place governing the transportation of these goods, there are also numerous violations. This can be a particularly dangerous scenario when truck accidents occur. In addition to wreaking havoc on the roads when truck loads break loose, hazardous materials and fumes can pose a danger to drivers and to neighboring communities.
Cargo Truck Accidents
A recent truck accident on Interstate 75 created chaos when a cargo truck carrying a load of pumpkins crashed and exploded into flames. According to a September 22, 2017 story in the Palm Beach Post, the crash occurred when the driver, a woman from Georgia, collided with a crash cushion while heading southbound with her load in the early morning hours. The driver was fortunate to escape the truck before it caught on fire and there were no other injuries, but hundreds of charred pumpkins littered the road, blocking traffic in all directions for several hours. Ironically, the accident heralded in the first full day of fall.
This particular accident occurred when there were few other drivers on the road. If it had happened during rush hour, or if the load being carried was a hazardous substance, the consequences would have been more severe. Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicate that an estimated 2,600 cargo truck accidents occur each year in the U.S., and roughly 400 involve the release of hazardous materials such as flammable liquids, poisonous substances, and radioactive waste.
Federal Safety Violations Increase Risks
The transport of hazardous substances is highly regulated, with the companies overseeing these hauls having to register and clear driving routes first with the FMCSA. There must be a clear disclosure of the type of material being hauled, identifying paperwork regarding where it originated and where it is being transported to, and clear identification on the truck that it contains potentially toxic substances. There are only certain types of trucks which are permitted to be used for these purposes, and there are strict packaging and maintenance practices which must be followed.
Frequent safety and regulatory inspections while on the road help to ensure compliance and prevent spills or releases. Unfortunately, FMCSA safety reports indicate inspection violations are common. The following are among the issues most frequently cited:
- Improper packaging of materials;
- No hazardous materials clearance number;
- Lack of placards identifying the truck as carrying hazardous substances;
- Lack of emergency response information and materials, in the event of accidents;
- Unintended release of hazardous materials within the truck itself.
When truck accidents involving dangerous substances occur, they can cause chain reactions among drivers while impacting others not involved in the crash. Even a minor incident involving a truck with hazardous materials can end up causing severe damages for everyone involved. When these types of accidents impact you or your loved ones, call or contact Gregg Wexler at the Wexler Law Firm, P.A. online to speak with our West Palm Beach truck accident attorney.