LED Lit Placard Frames for Hazardous Waste Materials
Increased truck and other transportation in recent years of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) requires greater attention to more effectively identify such materials, particularly in low lit and dark conditions.
Hazardous materials include flammable materials, toxics, explosives, oxidizing substances, organic peroxides, radioactive materials, corrosive etc. These materials can do harm to humans, property and the environment.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in transporting crude oil by trucks. In 2013, almost 150 million barrels were shipped in the USA using trucks. This is a 100% increase from 2008 (with about 69 million barrels shipped by trucks). According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), roughly 800,000 truck shipments of hazardous materials (gasoline, flammable gas, etc.) occur every day.
The American Trucking Association is forecasting a big growth in the trucking industry by 2022. In 2010, 81% of transportation companies’ revenues and 67% of their tonnage were for trucks. They predicted that there would be an increase of 66% in the industry’s revenue and 24% in tonnage by 2022.
Risks Related to Transportation of Hazardous Materials in low lit settings
· Low light settings create dangerous conditions for commercial and industrial vehicles transporting hazardous materials.
· In low lit conditions, other vehicle drivers have difficulty in identifying trucks, particularly vehicles carrying hazardous materials (VCHM), which can create a dangerous situation.
· There is a lack of attention and requirements to effectively identify VCHMs in low lit settings.
Annually, there are about 400,000 truck accidents. Of these, 5000 cases involved fatalities; and 200 fatalities are attributed to transporting hazardous materials. 3 The significant increase in the transport of hazardous materials in recent years indicates that these numbers will increase and the potential for catastrophic events will grow.
Statistically, more than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the passenger vehicle drivers. Almost 98% of the time, the other drivers died in the accidents. Each year, about 170,000 individuals are injured in accidents involving trucks, with 12.5% traffic-related deaths and 4% of all auto accident injuries related to very large commercial trucks. These statistics demonstrate that there is an increased danger to passenger vehicles as the number of VCHMs grows.
Truck accidents are costly. The average cost of a fatal crash is over $3 million while the average cost of accident not involving a death is about $62,000. The number rises significantly when hazardous materials are involved.
Solution: Use lighted placards for trucks
Currently, Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regulations (FMCSR) requires trucks to use special placards when transporting hazardous materials. These placards are diamond shaped, with images and numbers to reflect the nature of the materials. They also come with different distinguishable colors. These placards are a big help to enforce safety in the roads since other drivers can easily notice the trucks and the possible danger. However, these placards are of little help when it comes to dark and low lit conditions.
According to the statistics, the overwhelming majority of accidents are due to other drivers. One of the reasons truck accidents occur is the lack of visibility that the other driver suffers when driving in low lit settings or difficult situations that block visibility. This danger would be reduced if placards on hazardous truck were lighted.
Placards can be lit by LED lights. LED lights usually have a life span of 13.7 years. Lighted placards would enhance the visibility of the trucks, thus making the other vehicle drivers more aware of his/her surroundings. Other vehicle drivers would be able to notice dangers faster and better, especially in snow, heavy rain, fog or dark conditions that limit the visibility of the driver. In addition, emergency personnel responding to accidents would know immediately that the situation involves HAZMAT conditions so action could be taken quickly and safely.
Safety can be improved at minimal cost
Adding LED lit Placard frames would be about $40 each, or about $150 per commercial vehicle. This is a minimal financial burden. This cost spread over an approximate 12 year product life span represents a cost of about $12.50 per commercial vehicle per year.
Lit Placard frames will help other vehicle’s drivers to easily notice the commercial vehicle, which can help to avoid accidents. They also will increase safety and the response time when accidents do occur.
 To see images of placards, go here http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/hazmat/placards/