Feds Warn Truck and Bus Drivers about E-Cigarettes
The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a warning about e-cigarettes and vaporizers after serious accidents and personal injuries involving similar battery-powered smoking devices. Although FMCSA regulations do not prohibit the use of these devices, the advisory issued earlier this month states that motor carriers and commercial vehicle drivers should be cognizant of the risks associated with e-cigarettes and use good judgment and discretion in handling, storing, charging and smoking these devices near large trucks and buses.
The Danger of Exploding E-Cigs
Drivers also must follow smoking prohibitions on or near commercial vehicles that are transporting hazardous materials. The advisory includes information on incidents in which the devices have exploded or caught fire. According to the FMCSA, the explosions regularly involved the ejection of a burning battery case or other components from the device, which then ignited nearby materials that were flammable. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that between 2009 and 2014, there have been 25 incidents resulting in nine injuries involving e-cigarettes. There were no deaths, but two suffered serious burn injuries.
The Fire Administration estimated that more than 2.5 million Americans used e-cigarettes in 2014. That number as increased significantly as e-cigarette companies have stepped up marketing and pumped billions of dollars into ad campaigns. As the number of people switch from smoking to vaping or smoking e-cigs, the number of explosions has increased as well. Trauma and burn unit doctors say they are seeing significant tissue injury as well as damage to the mouth or the hands and tendons. They say e-cigarette explosions cause injuries that appear to be a combination of blasts and burns, making the damage much more significant.
Defective Batteries and Devices
What’s causing these horrific explosions? It’s the lithium-ion batteries that power e-cigarettes. A number of these batteries are imported from China where they are manufactured with substandard parts and materials. Corporations and retailers who take short cuts and put consumers in danger by flooding the market with these hazardous products can and should be held accountable.
Injured victims of e-cigarette explosions can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, cost of surgeries, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced California e-cig injury lawyer who handles e-cigarette explosion injury cases.