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Guide for Drivers: Transporting Hazardous Materials

Hauling 8,000 gallons of gasoline or other hazardous material (hazmat) has inherent risks for drivers and the general public. When regulations are followed, the risk is reduced to an acceptable level. Here are some of the requirements your drivers need to follow that are often overlooked. 

Shipping Papers – Keep them close!

In the event of an accident, spill, or leak there’s a chance that the driver may be injured to the point that they will not be able to communicate with emergency responders who need to control the scene and reduce the ill-effects of the accident.  Require your drivers to:

  • Keep hazmat transportation papers and emergency response information together, either in a pouch on the driver’s door or in clear view within immediate reach (while the seat belt is fastened).
  • When outside the vehicle, keep these papers in the driver’s seat.
  • Keep an up-to-date copy of the Emergency Response Guidebook in the cab.

Loading & Unloading

Follow the load segregation chart located in the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR 177.848) when transporting a mixed load of hazmat.  Some materials are not compatible and cannot be shipped together under any circumstances, while others may require materials to be separated in a manner that will not allow contact with each other in the event of leak.  

The loading and unloading of tanker trucks have specific requirements. The person in charge of this task must ensure that a qualified person is always watching and:

  • Has a clear view of the cargo tank and delivery hose.
  • Stands within 25 feet of the tank.
  • Knows the hazards of the materials involved as well as emergency procedures.
  • Is authorized and capable of moving the cargo tank.

If a package previously containing hazardous material is empty but has not been purged to remove all residues, it is still subject to the same requirements of the Hazardous Materials Regulations as it was when it was full. 

Always make sure placards are located on all four sides of the vehicle and in good condition when hauling a placarded load.

Route Constraints – Check before you start

States and counties have varying requirements when it comes to hazmat transportation. Some will require permits and/or prohibit the transportation of hazmat through tunnels and over bridges.  Try to avoid congested areas, crowds, tunnels and narrow streets, where possible.


As long as the driver is not transporting division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives they can park a placarded vehicle within five feet of the travelled part of the road, if work requires it. When parking on a public street, never uncouple a trailer and leave it with hazardous material or park within 300 feet of an open fire.

Parking along the side of the road should only be done briefly and someone must always watch the vehicle. The person responsible for watching is required to be:

  • Awake in the vehicle (not in the sleeper berth), or within 100 feet of the vehicle and within clear view.
  • Aware of the hazards of the materials being transported and know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Able to move the vehicle, if needed.

When parking on the side of the road in the case of a breakdown, use reflective triangles or red electric lights. Never use signals that burn, such as flares or fuses with a load containing Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives, or a tank used for Class 3 flammable liquids or Division 2.1 flammable gas, whether loaded or empty. 

Insurance Coverage

A hauler of placarded loads will need from $1 - $5 million in insurance, depending on what is being hauled.  Proper filings with the USDOT and states must also be completed. 

For more information on hazmat transportation, contact your HUB International risk services specialist.