Should drivers of hazardous materials be kept off of heavily traveled highways and be restricted to back roads and lightly traveled roads only? Why, or why not?
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This is a tough question. I tend to lean on the side of saying, yes, I believe that HazMat drivers should be kept off of heavily traveled roads and be restricted to back roads and lightly traveled roads. I live in Maryland, and I think of roads such as i95, 695, 295 (295 already has restrictions post 9/11). These roads during rush hour traffic have so much congestion and have the potential for standstill traffic. In the event there were to be a release, or a crash involving a HazMat truck, depending on the product it is hauling, it would be catastrophic. In addition, I think that the general congestion would be an issue in itself. We have recently all agreed on the effects of passenger vehicles when it comes to truck drivers and being their biggest hazard. By removing the HazMat trucks from the equation, we are removing the possibility of an accident.
However, I will say I see the negatives of this as well. It would lead to increased drive time for trucks, as the routes may be less direct. This would increase the vehicles time on the road which could increase the potential for catastrophe. In addition to this, the backroads may also be harder to traverse, especially in regions that see inclement weather sooner, and longer.
Generally speaking, though, I think it comes down to regions. The holdings group I work for is out of Denver. When their main pass through the mountains was shut down for mudslides, it turned a few hours drive, into a 4-5 hour drive. However, in Maryland if a road is closed, the worst a closed road may do is reroute you 8 minutes. So, I think there are many factors involved.