Trucking companies often transport hazardous materials across a state or across the country. Therefore it’s critical that you and your drivers are aware of and understand the interstate authority as it’s applicable to the transport of hazardous materials.
The Secretary of Transportation has determined that a hazardous material is a substance that can pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when it is transported in commerce. They also are classified depending on what type of hazard they pose and those substances that could fit the description for several hazards receive classification under the higher-risk For example, a material that is both a flammable liquid and an irritant would be classified as a flammable liquid since fire poses a greater threat than an eye or skin irritation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that any truck transporting one or more hazardous materials is clearly marked as doing so for other drivers to see. Truck drivers and trucking companies always must be in compliance with interstate authority when transporting hazardous substances. Drivers also must always follow the rules of the road to the letter, as well as comply with any state’s individual rules regarding transporting a hazardous substance.
If an accident occurs to a truck transporting hazardous materials, several state and federal agencies must be notified within 12 hours. Notifying these entities is actually more important than contacting a trucking company’s insurance carrier.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) National Response Center (NRC) is the first entity that should be contacted after a trucking accident involving a vehicle carrying a hazardous material. Next on the contact list is the Center for Disease Control (CDC) if the accident involves a substance that could cause or spread disease.
Contact these agencies when a serious accident occurs, such as when someone is killed, a major road or highway is blocked for more than hour, when there’s an evacuation of the public, a fire occurs, or radioactive cargo spills or contaminates an area.
Regardless of your cargo — hazardous or not — four states require special permits to operate your trucking business within them. New York, Kentucky, New Mexico and Oregon have special trucking authority/permit rules for companies who wish to cross into or through their borders. Each state allows a trucking company to register upfront or on a trip-by-trip basis. Registration is low; about $15 or less per vehicle, so you may want to consider registering for all four states, since the fee is quite affordable.
It’s difficult to keep track of and up to date with the countless interstate authority regulations for trucking across state lines. A well-established authority service knows the ins and outs of all the trucking regulations and can be a great resource for new trucking companies and even those who have been hauling for years.