The National Academies

HMCRP HM-10 [Final]

Current Hazardous Materials Transportation Research and Future Needs

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Research Agency: Visual Risk Technologies
Principal Investigator: Mark Lepofsky
Effective Date: 9/10/2010
Completion Date: 1/31/2012
Comments: Published as HMCRP Web-Only Document 1

While the private sector and a diverse mix of government agencies at all levels are responsible for the safe transport of hazardous materials, it is generally agreed that there has been a long-standing gap for conducting hazardous materials transportation safety and security research and sharing the results. In 2005, TRB published Special Report 283: Cooperative Research for Hazardous Materials Transportation, Defining the Need, Converging on Solutions, which recommended a trial of a national cooperative research program. The report also provided nine examples of projects that could be undertaken by a hazardous materials transportation cooperative research program.  
Congress also recognized the research gap and in 2005 authorized the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct the pilot stage of a Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program (HMCRP) through its Transportation Research Board (TRB). The legislation, which was part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) specified that the program address the nine topics suggested in Special Report 283:
1.     Assessment of opportunities to integrate and supplement safety and security measures for hazardous materials transportation.  
2.     Data on predominant traffic and highway geometric characteristics in large-truck crashes for use in risk analysis.
3.     Recommendations for development of conditional release probabilities for bulk containers involved in transportation accidents.
4.     Development of correlations between incident risks and consequences to aid in decision-making models.
5.     Development of an environmental hazard assessment system for the transport of hazardous materials.
6.     Recommendations for commercial transportation incident and commodity flow data collection and reporting.
7.     Detailed information for conducting hazardous materials commodity flow studies.
8.     National hazardous materials emergency response capability assessment.
9.     Transportation emergency response guidelines for hazardous materials.
In 2006, the HMCRP was established. In preparation for the initiation of the program, a study (see Special Note A) was commissioned to prioritize the nine topic areas through stakeholder interviews, and this prioritized listing has become the primary basis for the 13 projects selected for funding thus far. However, it is now time to step back and assess the state of current hazardous materials transportation research, compare the research with needs identified by stakeholders, and develop a prioritized list of potential research topics for the next phase of HMCRP.
The objective of the research is to review and compile current and proposed hazardous materials transportation research and prioritize future research needs for HMCRP.
Phase 1
(1).  Identify the relevant organizations (e.g., federal, state, industry, academic) conducting or sponsoring recent (since 2009), current, or planned (in the next 5 years) hazardous materials transportation research for all modes. Conduct a conference call with the project panel to review the identified organizations.(2).  Develop a list of hazardous materials transportation research projects (title, subject area, description, point of contact, status) by organization. (3). Describe the context for the research (e.g., regulatory, business, economic) and identify future research needs from the organization’s perspective, as well as problem areas that are not being researched.(4). Develop a matrix to categorize the areas of research (e.g., packaging, routing, emergency response, enforcement, risk assessment, other) by organizations identified in Task 1. (5). Assess the gaps and overlaps within and among organizations’ on-going research and perceived future research needs, as well as problem areas not being addressed. Propose a comprehensive list of research needs.(6). Prepare a framework with criteria that can be used to prioritize future research needs in Phase 2. (7). Prepare an interim report documenting the information developed in Tasks 1 through 6. 
Phase 2
(8). Based on HMCRP panel comments and approval, finalize the framework and criteria to prioritize future research needs.(9). Using the approved framework, develop a list of prioritized research projects for the next phase of HMCRP.(10). Prepare a final report that documents the research and prioritizes future research needs for HMCRP. 
STATUS: Published as HMCRP Web-Only Document 1: Current Hazardous Materials Transportation Research and Future Needs.  It is available at 


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