The Safe Haven parking rule applies to some trucks containing hazardous materials (hazmat). Hazardous materials include dangerous cargo such as explosive, poisonous or flammable materials. The Safe Havens are the acceptable areas where hazmat drivers can park and leave their vehicles unattended. It’s critical to follow the rules of attendance and surveillance of all trucks containing hazardous materials in order to keep pedestrians and drivers safe. Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all hazmat drivers must follow the Safe Haven rule to prevent possible accidents and injuries.

Possible Dangers of Driving with Hazmat

safe haven rule for truck drivers The Safe Haven law is in place to prevent death or injury in case a vehicle were to crash into a truck containing hazardous materials. If this were to happen, there are many possible dangers that could arise. Trucks containing flammable materials could catch on fire, leaked corrosive materials could cause chemical burns, and toxic, poison and radioactive substances could leak into the surrounding area harming unknowing local residents. So if a truck containing hazardous materials is left unattended in an undesignated area, it can lead to severe injury and even death. This is why it’s critical for all hazmat truck drivers to understand the Safe Haven parking rule.

Hazardous Materials Defined

Hazardous materials refers to any cargo that is explosive, flammable, poisonous or dangerous to people. There are 9 classes of hazardous material including explosives, gasses, flammable liquids, poisons, radioactive material and more. Dynamite, fireworks, propane, gasoline, ammonium nitrate, uranium and battery fluid are all examples of truck cargo that are considered hazardous materials. The packages containing these hazardous materials should always be labeled by the trucker in order to warn people of the danger, and four placards must be placed on the outside of the vehicle identifying the cargo’s hazard class. Drivers should keep an emergency telephone number and shipping papers for all hazardous materials within immediate reach while driving.

The Safe Haven Rules

Explosive material must always be attended by the truck driver unless the truck is parked on company property, the receiver’s property or a Safe Haven. A hazmat driver must be able to see the truck in clear view if the vehicle carrying explosives is unattended. The truck driver can use a video recorder to monitor the truck only if the video monitors are being watched by the driver at all times. These drivers cannot park within 5 feet of a roadway or any place where people come together. Trucks containing all other hazardous materials need to be attended by the driver if parked on a public street or highway. All hazmat drivers must steer clear of parking within 300 feet of a fire, unless proper safety measures are followed, and no truck driver is allowed to smoke within 25 feet of a truck containing explosives, oxidizing or flammable materials. According to the FMCSA, a Safe Haven designated parking area must be approved by the local, State or Federal government. The approval must be stated in writing.

Hazmat Truck Drivers Must Be Trained

All hazmat drivers should be trained before operating a truck with hazardous materials. They have to understand the safety risks of transferring the hazardous materials, and they must understand what each hazardous material specifically does. The hazmat truck driver has to know that the person who receives the explosives also understands what they do. A hazmat driver shipping Class A or B explosives must know the emergency steps they would need to take if an accident such as a fire takes place. The driver must always have on-hand the Safe Haven rules and a document with instructions on what to do in an emergency. Truck drivers carrying certain types of explosives must follow a designated route plan that was written beforehand. All of these steps are taken with the safety of the truck driver and surrounding drivers in mind.

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