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Federal Safety Board Says Cities May Not Make Rules About Hazmat Trucking Routes

By November 27, 2009July 17th, 2019Trucking Regulations

As a St. Louis tanker truck accident lawyer, I was disappointed to read about a recent federal ruling that takes away local municipalities’ ability to control how trucks use their roads. According to a Nov. 16 article from the Boston Globe, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the City of Boston was not legally entitled to order trucks carrying hazardous materials to use a route well outside of the city during daytime. That prompted a lawsuit from the American Trucking Associations, which led the Massachusetts Highway Department to ask the federal agency for clarification. In its ruling, the NTSB said only it can approve hazardous materials routes, in cooperation with state agencies.
The new trucking rules arose from Boston’s Big Dig project. Trucks couldn’t use the project’s tunnels, so they ended up using major thoroughfares within the city itself. This prompted safety worries, especially after a fuel tanker overturned in a traffic circle in 2007, spilling flaming gasoline down the street. To address those concerns, the city revoked all permits allowing trucks carrying hazardous materials to use city roads during the daytime, except to make local deliveries. Semi trucks were still allowed to drive city roads at night, the Globe said, but were limited to specified interstate and local routes during the day. For trucks carrying fuel from a north Boston fuel depot to the South Coast, this route meant a 40-mile detour that cost extra time and fuel. The city argued that highways are better suited for pass-through traffic, but critics said it was merely exporting the risk to the suburbs.
As a Missouri tractor-trailer accident attorney, I am disappointed by this decision. Cities may still develop rules on transporting hazardous materials through their streets, but this decision means they have to go through a state agency like MODoT, and ultimately submit their plans to the NTSB for approval. This puts extra layers of bureaucracy in the way of safety. Naturally, local governments that deal with transportation and infrastructure issues every day are better positioned to make these decisions than federal regulators. I also believe convenience to truck drivers — the reason for the route through Boston — should not trump safety concerns. In a high-density urban area with narrow streets, the potential for serious damage in any trucking accident is very high. That’s especially true when the truck is carrying a hazardous material like asphalt, gasoline or fuels, which can cause an explosion or a major fire in the blink of an eye.

Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., the Lowe Law Firm represents clients who lost loved ones or were seriously injured in an accident with a large commercial truck. Even more than other traffic accidents, trucking accidents cause devastating, life-changing injuries. In many cases, victims also find that they must deal with substantial financial losses, including lost income from not working as well as high medical bills. Our southern Illinois big rig accident attorneys help these families regain financial security by holding the parties who caused the accident responsible for these injuries and costs. Our goal is always to make sure our clients have the money to get needed medical care, support their families and recover as fully as possible from a catastrophic truck crash.
If you or a family member was seriously injured by a careless trucker or trucking company, you should talk to the Lowe Law Firm as soon as possible. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, please contact us through our Web site or call 1-877-678-3400 today.