What You Need to Know About Hauling Dangerous Goods

As a truck driver, there may be times where you will be called on to haul dangerous goods. It’s important to know what these hazardous materials are, and what hauling them entails.

What are Hazardous Materials?

Any substance or material that is deemed to pose an inordinately large threat to people and the environment is considered a hazardous material. This includes hazardous wastes, hazardous substances, marine pollutants, elevated temperature material and others.

Carrier Responsibilities

Reporting Hazardous Materials Incidents

You have a duty to immediately inform the National Response Center when there is an incident regarding hazardous materials, resulting in: a death; an injury that requires medical attention; evacuation of the general public for more than an hour, a closure of a major transport route; breakage, fire, spillage of radioactive material resulting in contamination, or of an infectious substance; spillage of a marine pollutant.

Shipping Papers

Each carrier will have to carry shipping papers that state hazardous materials are being transported, and describe it accordingly. This includes hazard class, proper shipping name, packaging group and identification number. There should also be an emergency response number that must be manned throughout the delivery of the hazardous materials. The person monitoring the emergency response number needs to have good knowledge of the hazardous materials and appropriate emergency response, or have access to someone who is familiar with this knowledge. These shipping papers have to be maintained for a year.


Hazardous materials have to be durably and accurately marked, in English and not obscured by another other materials. Basic requirements include identification numbers and proper shipping names of the hazardous materials.


Carriers of hazardous materials need to properly placard each side and each end of the vehicle, bulk packaging, unit load device, freight container or rail car.

Loading and Unloading

There are specific requirements for different modes of transportation, including by water, rail, highway or air. Loading and unloading requirements vary accordingly.


The responsibility of compatibility is borne by both shippers and carriers. This entails determining if materials require segregation, and making sure that cyanide or cyanide mixtures are not carried together with acids. Consult the Segregation Table for Hazardous Materials for more information.

Blocking and Bracing

Shippers are responsible for making sure packages containing hazardous materials are not damaged during shipping. Proper blocking and bracing needs to be done by the carrier when it comes to shipping by highway. The carrier will be held responsible if the hazardous materials spill or leak during transportation.

Security Plan

Your employer is required to design and put into place a security plan. You will be trained on the security plan, in order to make sure the transportation of these hazardous materials is as secure as possible.

Employee Training Required

Training is required for new employees hired to carry hazardous materials, within 90 days of being hired. There are several types of training, including general awareness and familiarization with hazardous materials, function-specific training to impart particular skills, knowledge and abilities, safety training and security training.

It’s important to know your responsibilities as a carrier in order to safely and securely transport dangerous goods. Consult Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations for more detailed information and guidelines.