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What is the Hazardous Materials BASIC?

Hazardous materials is one of seven categories in the Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) program operated by the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The purpose of BASICs is for FMCSA safety evaluators to be able to assess drivers in seven unique categories and then rank them against each other to form a percentile rating. These rankings help the administration uncover and prioritize assistance to drivers who require improvement in practicing safe driving habits, upholding the proper requirements for trucking operation, and properly maintaining commercial vehicles.

Understanding the Hazardous Materials BASIC

Drivers who transport materials deemed hazardous by the Department of Transportation (DOT) must take proper precautions, including appropriate labeling of the hazard to inform others to stay back and/or drive with caution near the commercial vehicle in question. This specific BASIC addresses Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) found in 49 CFR Part 397 and draws inspiration from 39 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations Parts 171 to 173 and 177 to 180.

Actions that may cause a motor carrier to score poorly on this BASIC include:

  • Not properly securing a load containing any hazardous materials
  • Failing to mark, label, or obtain the appropriate placard warning others of the potential danger
  • Failing cargo tank specifications
  • Transporting hazardous materials that leak due to the driver or motor carrier’s negligent actions
  • Improper loading and/or unloading practices
  • Poor attendance record

Documentation Drivers Must Carry Related to Hazardous Materials

Drivers must produce any documentation requested by a safety inspector, whether it’s a scheduled or random inspection. Inspectors request the following documents the most often:

  • Hazardous materials shipping papers
  • Hazardous materials incident reports
  • Hazardous water materials
  • Evidence of hazardous materials training
  • Certificates from cargo tank manufacturers

Failure to provide these or any other documents could result in a worse score on the inspection and a higher likelihood of FMCSA intervention.

How Drivers Can Improve in the Hazardous Materials BASIC

In order to transport these substances safely and smoothly, drivers must understand the above regulations while transporting hazardous materials. This requires motor carriers to invest time and resources into educating new drivers and providing ongoing education to ensure accurate knowledge and compliance.

If a motor carrier does notice an issue with a driver, it is important to proactively address the problem before it affects the operator’s safety percentile and the motor carrier’s reputation. Drivers who need additional education can find the resources they need on the FMCSA website.

Drivers Who Transport Hazardous Materials Need the Right Insurance

In addition to auto liability insurance, the FMCSA may also require drivers to obtain a special type of insurance policy to transport certain materials. Most commonly, hazmat insurance is required for transporting poisonous, flammable, or explosive materials. This type of trucking insurance can help your business with the costs of cleaning up in-transit accidents, contamination incidents, and more.

To start getting free, customized quotes on hazmat insurance for your commercial trucking business, give our agents a call, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with a trucking insurance professional today.