The transportation of hazardous materials is highly regulated, and those who violate those regulations are subject to large fines. The federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act requires all transporters to follow the regulations outlined in the Act.
In addition, if a truck is carrying chemicals or explosives that qualify as an “abnormally dangerous activity” and is involved in an accident, the truck owner will generally be subject to strict liability in any subsequent personal injury claim. Strict liability means that the person responsible is liable for the harm caused, even if that person acted with the utmost care in trying to prevent the harm. However, if hazardous materials do not qualify as abnormally dangerous, or if strict liability does not apply, injured parties have to prove negligence in order to recover compensation for their injuries.
When a hazardous spill occurs, there is a safety risk not just to the people who were transporting the materials but also to other drivers, homes, community members, and the environment. And even in a highly regulated industry, some transporters still manage to slip through the cracks.