The shortage of truck drivers in North America isn't a new topic. There is a wrinkle in it that isn't as widely covered but is crucial to the success of the United States' economy: hazmat drivers. Though they are naturally lumped in together with the general driver shortage in terms of numbers, a driver with a hazmat certification is often even more difficult to find.
What's Involved in Becoming a Hazmat Certified Driver?
The process to obtain a hazmat certification can seem complex and cumbersome to many. Even those with an impeccable driving record could find themselves intimidated by the time and effort that goes into getting their certification.
In order to receive their hazmat endorsement, drivers must first have an up-to-date CDL. Individuals must then take a hazmat knowledge test. This test consists of 30 questions, 80% or more which need to be answered correctly in order to pass. Drivers must take this test every time they renew their hazmat endorsement as well. Once passed, the individual must then apply for a Federal Security Threat Assessment and have their fingerprints taken. The entire process can take up to 90 days. This doesn’t include the fees drivers must endure to obtain this certification.
Why Does Becoming a Hazmat Certified Driver Matter?
As noted above, most truck drivers have the experience and driving record to prove that they know what they're doing when it comes to transporting goods via truck. When a driver is also one who is hazmat certified, he or she has the knowledge and training required to safely deliver, handle and dispose of a range of materials that are deemed to be hazardous in some way. These include chemicals, matches, fuel, fireworks, paint, batteries, and cleaning products to name a few. A hazmat driver is often a "first responder" of sorts and vital to keeping the roadways safe. Because the truck driver is often the first one to notice and respond to hazardous situations involving sensitive materials, it's critical that they have the pertinent training and qualifications.
How Hazardous Spills Can Affect Your Business
If your business involves transporting hazardous materials, then you have additional responsibilities that others do not. Not only are you responsible for transporting, using, disposing and storing the materials in a safe and compliant manner, you're also required to pay the applicable costs associated with these actions. This liability covers those costs associated with the cleanup and containment that are necessary in the event of a spill or release of a hazardous substance. You are also responsible for the costs of any damages that could result from such a spill. The Environmental Protection Agency is the federal entity in the United States that oversees these issues. In addition to the costs noted above, it's also possible that your company will be penalized for the release of the hazardous materials. In some cases, the cost of these penalties could be as much as $25,000 per day.
Take last week, for example, when a tanker truck collided with a train, releasing over 44,600 pounds of hydrochloric acid into the air, causing the evacuation of local residents in Washington Country, PA. Or the tractor trailer that crashed into a passenger car, leaking dozens of gallons of diesel fuel in the Fox River. Hazmat spills happen every day and you as a shipper need to be prepared.
We Can Help
Road Scholar knows how vital safe and knowledgeable truck drivers are to the country's economy and your business. That’s why we transport for some of the country’s largest chemical manufacturers on a daily basis. Road Scholar’s hazmat certified drivers participate in a training program that keeps them “up to speed” on the latest techniques to prevent accidents and protect hazardous cargo. Combine Road Scholar’s drivers’ experience with our strict in transit security protocols and the result is a “security officer” behind the wheel escorting your freight.
So the next time you are wondering, why is it so hard to find a qualified hazmat carrier, tell yourself it doesn’t have to be. It’s as easy as going to http://www.roadscholar.com and putting your freight in the hands of a trusted carrier today.