If you’ve been on the road long enough, you are sure to have noticed the diamond-shaped labels on the back and sides of semi-trucks and trailers. These helpful signs are called hazmat placards and they are used to communicate what kind of hazardous materials trucks are hauling. The US Department of Transportation requires vehicles hauling over 1,000 pounds of hazmat to display them on all sides of their vehicle letting everyone know, including first responders, what’s inside so they know how to handle it safely.
The signs not only tell if something is flammable, explosive, radioactive, poisonous, biohazardous, or corrosive but also give details about what specific chemicals make up the material, and the dangers it poses. The color of the sign is the most noticeable detail from far away and communicates the basics about what kind of threat the cargo on board can pose. Here are some of the placard colors and the characteristics they convey:
As you get closer to the hazmat placards you can make out symbols (that are self-explanatory) and class numbers in the bottom corner of the diamond. Each class number indicates a specific characteristic of the material and can go further with subclasses (e.g. 1.1, 1.2, etc.) to explain how that material might react.
Knowing what type of material you are dealing with and how it might react is vital in hazmat transportation, however, hazmat placards have an additional detail that specifies even more about what’s inside called the United Nations ID (UN ID) number. This four-digit number, ranging from 0004-3534, is another way to communicate hazard and will often specify what exact chemical is being hauled. To give some examples UN 1202 means diesel fuel, UN 1072 means compressed oxygen, and UN 3066 indicates paint or paint related material. Unlike color, symbols and class numbers, you might need a reference to know what the number means but they can be very useful to understand how to handle it properly or to contain the substance if something were to go wrong.
Some hazmat doesn’t have a UN ID number and is assigned North American (NA) numbers by the US DOT. UN/NA numbers can be found in the middle of a hazmat placard.
Before booking a shipment
At Dillon Logistics, we believe all accidents and injuries are preventable. Our commitment is a ZERO accident rate. If you are booking a hazmat shipment with Dillon, it’s important to let us know what exactly is being hauled, any special requirements it may have in being moved, assembled or disassembled, and its hazard class (as detailed above). The safety of drivers, first responders, terminal staff, and even the general public depends on properly labeling hazmat.
In an industry where safety is key all year around, it’s even more pertinent to be extra cautious during frigid months. Extreme weather can make any road unpredictable and challenge any driver’s capabilities. Sometimes staying safe simply means brushing up on a few reminders. Freshen up on some of these tips we curated from various industry news outlets.
First. Check your truck. Tanks and trailers that are in tip-top shape offer better odds for safer performance. Before you depart to your destination, double-check the necessities, like tire pressure, engine oil, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers, washer fluid, mirror adjustments, etc., to verify everything is working and that your ride is ready for harsh weather.
Before leaving a terminal or customer, make sure to always dislodge snow from your windshield and windows, hood, roof, trunk and lights. This may be a given, but it’s crucial that your vision is never impaired while driving. Because we take safety seriously at Dillon Logistics, we’d rather you take a few extra minutes to clear your view than put yourself at risk of danger.
Once you are out on the road, the safest precaution you can take is to slow your speed and make some space. It’s the hustle and bustle that often instigates dangerous and even life-threatening accidents, especially during winter. Because traction on icy roads is poor, staying at a safe distance from other vehicles and maintaining safe speeds not only gives a buffer for breaking, but it also offers more time to react if something does go awry.
“Do you know that the stopping distance on a wet road is twice the normal stopping distance? And on icy roads, it’s almost 10 times,” an article from GPSTrackit online said.
Also, recognize that with frozen conditions comes thin layers of transparent ice known as black ice. Deceptively similar to water, black ice is transparent and easy to miss. According to an article by Ryder Fleet Products, the best way to pinpoint black ice is to look at your truck and surrounding terrain. If ice begins to build on the outside mirror arms, the antenna, or top corners of the wind-shield, it’s possible there is black ice on the road. If water spray from vehicles tires in front of you suddenly stops, it could mean there are ice patches on the road.
What happens if, after taking all these safeguards you still find yourself skidding? Firstly, be calm and try not to overreact, as that could make the slipping worse. Next...
1) keep the steering wheel straight
2) slowly take your foot off the gas pedal but do not hit the brake
3) shift into neutral
4) steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go
5) once your truck starts to straighten out, shift back into drive and slowly press the gas.
At Dillon Logistics, we aren’t just about serious drivers and serious hauling. We are serious about safety. As a result, we are personally committed to living a culture of safety and providing the best workspace and equipment to protect each other. If you have any questions about how to drive through cold conditions, please contact our safety department at 813-853-4864.
Serious drivers. serious hauling.
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