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August 3, 2016

FMCSA Warns: E-cigarettes and Commercial Vehicles are a Dangerous Combination

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a Safety Advisory with information for owners and operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) concerning incidents and risks involving possession and use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices [e.g., e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-cigars, e-pipes, e-hookahs, personal vaporizers, electronic nicotine delivery systems]. 

The use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices has resulted in incidents including explosions, serious personal injuries and fires. The explosions regularly involved the ejection of a burning battery case or other components from the device which subsequently ignited nearby flammable or combustible materials. 

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates there have been 25 incidents between 2009 and August 2014. However, news sources place the number of explosions at over 150. A
number of these incidents have occurred while a device was being charged. Others have occurred during use or while simply carrying a device.

The Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not specifically address the potential safety risks posed by electronic smoking devices. However, FMCSA urges motor carriers and drivers to:

  • Be aware of the risks associated with these devices
  • Exercise good judgment and appropriate discretion in their possession, storage, charging or use on, around or while operating a CMV
  • Adhere to the smoking prohibitions on, near, or when loading and unloading a motor vehicle transporting hazardous materials, in accordance with 49 CFR 177.834(c) and 397.13.

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