Draft Final Report: Development of Hazardous Materials (HM) Shipper Prioritization Program

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Virginia Tech Transportation Institute


In the mid-1990s, an attempt was made to develop a performance-based prioritization for Hazardous Materials (HM) shippers. During this attempt it became apparent that there was insufficient performance data to develop such a system. In response, FMCSA developed the HM Package Inspection Program (HMPIP) to focus on inspecting individual shipments of HM at the roadside or on carriers’ docks. Due to the improvements made over the years to the package inspection data collected during HMPIP inspections, HM incident data, and improved departmental data identifying companies involved in shipping HM, FMCSA has begun a second effort to develop a performance-based prioritization of HM shippers. The purpose of the current project was for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) to review, document, and recommend improvements to FMCSA’s HM Shipper Prioritization Program. This project consisted of six major tasks, all of which were successfully executed by VTTI. After the kick-off meeting and the successful completion of a detailed work plan, a peer review committee was formed. Members of the peer review committee were to participate in two peer review meetings during the course of the project. The purpose of the first peer review meeting was to have the study methodology and data collection techniques reviewed by the committee. The purpose of the second peer review meeting was to review the study findings and conclusions. Another major step in this project was to review and examine the current Hazardous Materials (HM) Shipper Prioritization Program, which included two distinct prioritization algorithms, and to develop software titled the HM Shipper Prioritization Application (HMSPA). HMSPA was then beta tested in states with existing shipper programs. The focus of these onsite tests was usability testing with potential end users. Both subjective and objective data were collected by way of questionnaires and performance tasks. All results were very positive indicating that the beta version, with minor modifications based on user recommendations, should move forward into a fully functioning application for FMCSA.



hazardous materials, shippers, inspect, prioritization