Accidents involving tractor trailers are serious enough, but an already dismal situation can be made much worse when the truck involved is carrying hazardous materials. Around 200 HAZMAT trucks are involved in a fatal crash every year, and 5,000 more of these trucks are involved in non-fatal crashes. While this may not seem like a lot, accidents involving HAZMAT trucks have the potential to be devastating not only to motorists and bystanders but also to property and the environment.
HAZMAT trucks are those that transport hazardous materials from one place to another. Very often they contain flammable liquids like gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil. In fact, by some estimates over half of HAZMAT truck shipments contain some kind of flammable liquid. With over 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials making their way around the U.S. in trucks each year, motorists in all areas of the country are at risk for a HAZMAT collision.
HAZMAT vs. Non-HAZMAT truck crashes
There are some key differences – and similarities – between crashes involving trucks carrying hazardous materials and those that don’t:
- 67 percent of HAZMAT trucks involved in a fatal crash had a cargo tank body, while only 5 percent of non-HAZMAT trucks involved in a fatal crash had a cargo tank body. HAZMAT trucks with cargo tank bodies are more likely to be carrying flammable liquids, which makes crashes more serious.
- Even in non-fatal crashes 69 percent of HAZMAT trucks had cargo tank bodies while only 4 percent of non-HAZMAT trucks involved in an accident had a cargo tank body.
- Over one-third of HAZMAT trucks involved in a fatal crash rolled over, while only 12 percent of non-HAZMAT trucks in a fatal crash rolled over.
- For both HAZMAT and non-HAZMAT trucks, the most common first harmful event is a collision with another vehicle (69% for HAZMAT trucks, 79% for non-HAZMAT trucks).
- Fire is another issue with HAZMAT crashes: fire was present for 14 percent of trucks carrying hazardous materials, but present for only 4 percent of non-HAZMAT trucks.
- Rural highways are dangerous no matter how you slice it. Not only are they riskier for drivers of passenger vehicles, but they account for 71 percent and 67 percent of fatal HAZMAT and non-HAZMAT crashes, respectively.
If you are searching for more information about tractor trailer accidents, please visit our truck accident law library. To speak with a lawyer who has proven experience successfully securing compensation for truck accident victims, please contact the Houston based personal injury attorneys VB Attorneys P.L.L.C.