The Commercial Drivers License
B-18 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RULES FOR ALL COMMERCIAL
All drivers should know something about hazardous materials.
You must be able to recognize hazardous cargo, and you must know
whether or not you can haul it without having a Hazardous Materials
endorsement to your CDL license.
What Are Hazardous Materials
The Federal Hazardous Materials Table names materials that are
hazardous. They pose a risk to health, safety, and property during
transportation. You must follow the many rules about transporting
The intent of the rules is to
ē contain the product,
ē communicate the risk,
ē ensure safe drivers and equipment.
Why Are There Rules?
To contain the product:
Many hazardous products can injure or kill on contact. To protect
drivers and others from contact, the rules tell shippers how to
package safely. Similar rules tell drivers how to load, transport
and unload bulk tanks. These are containment rules.
To communicate the risk:
The shipper uses a shipping paper and package labels to warn dockworkers
and drivers of the risk. Shipping orders, bills of lading and manifests
are all examples of shipping papers. There are 22 different hazard
classes. A materialís hazard class reflects the risks associated
Here are the 22 hazard classes.
Shippers write the name of the hazard class of hazardous products
in the item description on the shipping paper. Similar words should
show on four inch diamond shaped labels on the containers of hazardous
materials. If the diamond label wonít fit on the container, shippers
should put the label on a tag. For example, compressed gas cylinders
that will not hold a label will have tags or decals. Labels look
like the examples shown in Figure 2-15.
After an accident or hazardous material leak, the driver may be
unable to speak when help arrives. Fire fighters and police must
know the hazards involved in order to prevent more damage or injury.
The driverís life and the lives of others may depend on quickly
finding the shipping papers for hazardous cargo. For that reason,
you are required to tab shipping papers related to hazardous materials,
or keep them on top of other shipping papers.
You are required to keep shipping papers:
ē in a pouch on the driverís door, or
ē in clear view within reach, or
ē on the driverís seat.
Drivers are required to use placards to warn others of their hazardous
cargo. Placards are signs placed on the outside
of a vehicle to show the hazard class(es) of products on board.
There are 19 different DOT placards.
A chart showing example placards appears at the end of Section
Each is turned upright on a point, like a diamond shape. The person
who does the loading will place the placards on the front, rear,
and both sides of the vehicle. Not all vehicles carrying hazardous
materials need to have placards. The rules about placards are given
in Section 9 of this driverís manual.
You can drive a vehicle that carries hazardous materials if it
does not require placards. If it requires placards, you cannot drive
it unless your driverís license has the hazardous materials endorsement.
To ensure safe drivers and equipment:
The rules require all drivers of placarded vehicles to learn how
to safely load and transport hazardous products. They are required
to have a commercial driverís license with the hazardous materials
endorsement. To get the required endorsement you must pass a written
test on material found in Section 9 of this manual. You also will
need a tank endorsement if you transport hazardous products in a
cargo tank on a truck larger than 26,000 pounds, gross vehicle weight
rating. Drivers who need the hazardous materials endorsement need
to learn the placard rules.
If you do not know if your vehicle needs placards, ask your employer.
Never drive a vehicle needing placards unless you have the hazardous
materials endorsement. If stopped, you will be cited and you will
not be allowed to drive your truck further. It will cost you time
and money. A failure to placard when needed will risk your life
and others if you have an accident. Emergency help will not know
of your hazardous cargo.
Hazardous materials drivers are also required to know which products
they can load together, and which they can not. These rules are
in Section 9. Before loading a truck with more than one type of
product, you must know if it is safe to load them together. If you
do not know, ask your employer.