HazMat Transportation

State and Local HazMat Violations—An Emerging Concern

Unsecured packages remained the top violation of hazardous materials (hazmat) regulations uncovered by U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) roadside inspections. What other violations made the top 10 list? Let’s take a look and help you avoid DOT’s hazmat hit list.

USDOT Hazardous Materials Transportation Placards on rear of a Fuel Tanker

EyeMark / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Don’t get caught short by a DOT roadside inspection. So far, in published data for fiscal year (FY) 2017, DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has performed 111,048 roadside inspections of trucks targeting compliance with hazardous materials transportation regulations. During these inspections, DOT inspectors have found 22,536 violations.

The top violation DOT inspectors have found so far in FY 2017, as in FY 2016, is that packages are not secured in the vehicle. At 2,074 violations, this mistake accounts for over 9% of the total violations. Following at a close second, inspectors have found 1,494 instances where there was no copy of the DOT hazmat registration number in the vehicle.

Brush Up on Placarding

Placarding issues are always prominent in the top 10 hazmat violations list; 3 of the top 10 violations so far in FY 2017 have to do with placarding requirements. In some cases, the placards were not provided to the carrier, the vehicle was not properly placarded, or the placards were damaged or obscured. The DOT provides plenty of information concerning placarding, but can often be confusing. For instance, the DOT deemed one scenario compliant when asked about the placement of a placard on a pickup truck.

The shipper in question wanted to know if it is compliant to place a placard on the front of a pickup truck with an attached trailer that contains an amount of hazardous materials that requires placarding to satisfy the requirement that vehicles carrying hazardous material in amounts that require placarding be placarded on each side and each end. According to the DOT, that scenario would be compliant because of an exception in the hazardous materials placarding rules that allows placarding in the front of a truck-tractor instead of or in addition to the placarding on the front of the cargo body to which a truck-tractor is attached. In this case, it is not just a matter of finding the exception in the hazardous materials placarding rules concerning the visibility and display of placarding (49 CFR 172.516); you would also have to determine for yourself, unless you wanted to wait for DOT guidance, that a pickup truck would be considered a truck-tractor.

Top 10 Hazmat Violations

Here’s look at the top 10 hazmat transportation violations by trucks uncovered by DOT inspectors so far for FY 2017.

  Regulation Violation Description # of inspections # of violations % of total violations
1 49 CFR 177.834 Package not secure in vehicle 1,994 2,074 9.20%
2 49 CFR 107.620 No copy of U.S. DOT Hazardous Materials Registration number 1,494 1,494 6.63%
3 49 CFR 177.817 Shipping paper accessibility 1,203 1,209 5.36%
4 49 CFR 172.516 Placard damaged, deteriorated, or obscured 1,135 1,195 5.30%
5 49 CFR 172.504 Vehicle not placarded as required 1,152 1,184 5.25%
6 49 CFR 177.817 No shipping papers (carrier) 1,019 1,033 4.58%
7 49 CFR 172.502 Failure to provide carrier required placards 918 933 4.14%
8 49 CFR 172.602 Maintenance/accessibility of emergency response information 700 702 3.12%
9 49 CFR 172.202 Failure to enter basic description of hazardous materials in proper sequence 595 609 2.70%
10 49 CFR 397.3 State/local laws ordinances regulations 583 607 2.69%

Data Source: FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System

Know Your State and Local Hazmat Laws

As mentioned, the top violation in both FY 2017 (so far) and FY 2016 was unsecured packages in vehicles. Interestingly, the violation that held the second spot in 2016 was the lack of a copy of the hazardous materials registration number.

As a matter of fact, 9 of the top 10 hazmat violations in FY 2016 have shown up as part of the top 10 so far in FY 2017. However, one violation that crept to number 10 so far this year concerns state and local laws and regulations. Compliance with state and local laws and regulations may become increasingly important since the Trump administration’s stated intent is to relax federal enforcement.

Check tomorrow’s Advisor for scenarios when DOT roadside inspectors think you are not obeying state or local hazardous materials transportation regulations—an emerging concern in FY 2017.