Hazmat: The Dangerous Freight

By: Bubbajunk.com

Every day about 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials are moving through United States. According to the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety. 500,000 transport chemical materials, 300,000 transport petroleum and 10,000 carry hazardous waste material and medical wastes. 94% of the freight is hauled by trucks.


Commonly known as hazmat, hazardous materials are an important issue for the trucking and transportation business; and even for the federal government. But what is the hazardous material?


The Institute of Hazardous Materials Management defines Hazardous Material as any biological, chemical or physical item with the potential to cause damage to humans, animals or the environment. At an International level, the International Maritime Organization of the United Nations divided these materials in nine categories: explosives, gases, flammable liquids, flammable solids, oxidizers, toxic materials, radioactive materials, corrosives and miscellaneous.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers hazmat carcinogens, toxics agents, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers, combustibles, explosive chemicals, flammable, oxidizers, pyrophorics and reactive materials. In the case of trucking companies, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the proper institution to rule hazardous material and its hauling.


Hauling hazmat is a delicate work. Truck drivers are instructed to make special maneuvers such as stopping at least 15 feet and no more than 50 feet from the nearest track. 

The topic has taken a political side after the September 11th attacks.  Trucks with hazardous freight were included in the possible targets of terrorists. 

The requirements to get hazardous material endorsements are now greater and better enforced. Although the procedure to get a CDL and the proper hazmat endorsements is different for each state, the general rules were re- defined by the government.


New requirements were created by the US Patriot Act and administrated by the DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to avoid a terrorist taking control of one of these trucks.