Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Known Unknowns in the Road-Based Transport of Dangerous Goods – Consequences for the Risk Analysis of Tunnel Systems

Christian Henrik Alexander Kuran

Institute for Safety, Economics and planning, University of Stavanger, Norway.


The transportation of dangerous goods through road-based systems is heavily regulated to ensure the safety of individuals, property, and the environment. In Norway, the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection oversees the certification and education of safety advisers and drivers involved in the transportation of dangerous goods. However, recent studies suggest that regulations in the heavy goods transport (HGV) sector are not always followed, posing unforeseen risks to tunnel safety and the environment. The paper, based on longitudinal observational fieldwork conducted between 2016 and 2020, challenges assumptions about the compliance of rules and regulations in the HGV sector. The author introduces the concept of Adaptive Nonconforming Behaviour (ANB), which includes the violation of safety-related regulations and deviations from established practices. ANB can result from external and internal socioeconomic pressures, such as cost-cutting measures. The author uses ethnographic methodology to examine the day-to-day work of truck drivers, revealing that dangerous goods are often secretively transported with mixed cargo, drivers are unaware of the nature of the cargo they are transporting, and there is a tendency to camouflage the packaging of dangerous goods to cut costs. These findings highlight the importance of considering ANB in the risk analysis of tunnel systems and call for stricter enforcement of regulations in the HGV sector.

Keywords: Dangerous goods, Heavy goods vehicles, Adaptive non-conforming behaviour, Regulation, Empirical study.

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