FMCSA redefines hazmat interventions

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed criteria that determines which motor carriers should be subject to more stringent Hazardous Materials intervention thresholds.

This change allows FMCSA to more accurately identify motor carriers that transport placardable quantities of hazmat, according to the agency.

"The intent of the revised definition is to apply lower thresholds to carriers transporting placarded quantities of HM (generally 1,001 pounds or more of most HM)," wrote Rob Abbot, vice president of Safety Policy at the American Trucking Associations, in an email.

Previously, the HM intervention threshold was applied to motor carriers based solely on their registration information indicating they transported any quantity of HM.

This resulted in some motor carriers being subjected to the lower HM threshold that in fact were not carrying placardable quantities of HM. Conversely, it resulted in some carriers not being subjected to the lower threshold that should have been.

Abbot said that, previously, even carriers hauling small quantities of more benign materials, such as household paint, were subject to the threshold.

The new intervention threshold now applies to motor carriers that transport placardable quantities of HM based on operational evidence.

ATA’s Abbott says the new definition still falls short, however.

"We understand the logic behind excluding carriers that haul very small quantities of less egregious HM from the HM carrier definition," Abbott wrote. "But the new definition needs improvement. For instance, a carrier that hauled a single placarded load in the past 24 months is now considered an HM carrier and subject to the lower intervention thresholds.

"Intuitively, these are not the carriers FMCSA had intended to label as HM carriers, since they do not regularly haul commodities that could contribute to crash severity. Instead, the agency should consider taking frequency into account."


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