A federal agency in charge of the trucking industry is warning drivers about the potential dangers of storing and transporting electronic cigarettes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a safety advisory Wednesday to alert owners and operators of commercial motor vehicles about the safety risks associated with possessing and using battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in their vehicles.
E-cigarettes have often been billed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, which could be welcome news for the trucking industry. Trucks drivers are more than twice as likely to smoke than the rest of the population, according to a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study in 2014.
But there could be other risks associated with using the electronic devices. Defective lithium-ion batteries used to charge the units can sometimes explode without warning.
There have been a number of reported incidents in which e-cigarette batteries spontaneously explode in the consumer’s pockets or hands, causing serious injuries in some cases.
“The use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices has resulted in incidents including explosions, serious personal injuries, and fires,” the FMCSA advisory says.
“Motor carriers and drivers should be cognizant of the risks associated with these devices and exercise good judgment and appropriate discretion in their possession, storage, and charging or use on, around, or while operating a [commercial motor vehicle].”
The agency also encouraged drivers to follow smoking prohibitions while loading, unloading or transporting hazardous materials.
“The explosions regularly involved the ejection of a burning battery case or other components from the device which subsequently ignited nearby flammable or combustible material,” FMCSA said.
The Department of Transportation has not only prohibited the use of e-cigarettes on commercial flights but also banned the devices in checked baggage over fire hazard concerns.
"Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous, and a number of recent incidents have shown that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport," Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxBusiness, labor groups teaming in high-speed rail push Hillicon Valley: Uber, Lyft agree to take California labor win nationwide | Zoom to implement new security program along with FTC | Virgin Hyperloop completes first test ride with passengers Uber, Lyft eager to take California labor win nationwide MORE said. "Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent and important safety measure."