The Commercial Drivers License (CDL)


The Commercial Drivers License


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 them.

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 with it.

Here are the 22 hazard classes.

Blasting Agent

Combustible Liquid


Etiologic Agents

Explosive A

Explosive B

Explosive C

Flammable Gas

Flammable Liquid

Flammable Solid

Irritating Material

Nonflammable Gas

Organic Peroxide







Poison A

Poison B

Radioactive Material

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 9.

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.




You can click on the safety tips for more information.

For the UPDATED Practice Quizzes click Here


HOME E-mail Us Sign Our Guest Book .

This site is meant to enhance your learning of the Rules of the Road and is not intended to replace the Drivers Manual supplied by the Motor Vehicle Department of your State. Send mail to web master with questions or comments about this web site.

Copyright © 1998 GoLocalnet Last modified: July 1, 2000