HazMat: A Driving Game for Adults
By Josh Simons on Jul 31, 2007
I remember my parents keeping us kids occupied on long vacation drives with car-related games. Our favorite was spotting licenses plates from as many different US states and Canadian provinces as we could find.
If you commute to work, why not pass the time and learn a little about the many chemicals that underpin our society by collecting hazardous materials codes from nearby trucks? As an added plus, you will join me in being horrified at how some automobile drivers seem totally oblivious to the ramifications of playing chicken with these big rigs.
To play HazMat, you'll need to keep track of the codes you see on truck placards. The placards look like this:
In this example, the "3" represents the hazard class of the material being transported. There are nine such categories. They are:
- Gases - Compressed, Dissolved or Refrigerated
- Flammable Liquid
- Flammable Solids - Combustible, Water Reactive
- Oxidizing Substances - Organic Peroxides
- Poisonous (Toxic) and Infectious Substances
- Radioactive Material
- Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods
You will also need a copy of the US government's hazardous materials table to decipher the four-digit codes. For example, the "1203" on the sample placard means gasoline or gasohol. I found a PDF copy of the table here.Here are a few of the more unusual placard numbers I've seen commuting on Rt 128 in the Boston area.
- 1824 -- sodium hydroxide solution
- 1966 -- refrigerated liquid hydrogen
- 3264 -- acidic, inorganic, corrosive liquid
- 3257 -- elevated temperature at or above 100 degreesC and below its flash point (including molten metals, molten salts, etc.)
So, give HazMat a try. Have fun, collect them all...and be careful out there.