Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Endorsement

What Truck Drivers Need To Know About Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) CDL Endorsement:

  • What are hazardous materials? A hazardous material is defined as any substance or material that could adversely affect the safety of the public, handlers or carriers during transportation.
  • The Department Of Transportation (DOT) has classified certain materials as hazardous, and truck drivers are required to obtain a specific HAZMAT endorsement in order to transport them.
  • Part of the process for obtaining a Hazmat endorsement is passing a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) background check.
  • A criminal record could keep a driver from clearing the TSA background check and getting a Hazmat endorsement.
  • Hazmat endorsements will need to be renewed at least every 5 years.

HAZMAT Endorsement For CDL Drivers:

  • In order to transport hazardous materials, drivers must hold a valid CDL for the state in which they are applying, and pass a Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge Test. You can use our CDL Practice Tests For Hazmat to help you study.
  • See Also: Hazardous Materials Endorsement Training
  • The TSA (Transportation Security Administration), in accordance with the USA Patriot Act, has added another level to the process, called the TSA Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment Program, which will include submitting fingerprints and passing a background check. As always, it is important for new/potential drivers to be up-front about any items that may raise red flags on background checks.
  • Hazmat background checks will examine a drivers criminal record as well as checking for any outstanding warrants. They will also verify you are not on any terrorist watch lists.
  • Hazmat background checks could take up to 30 days to complete.
  • The TSA lists various factors which could disqualify a driver from passing a background check.
  • See Also: TSA Background Check

Hazmat Endorsement Renewal:

Hazardous Material Endorsements (HME) will need to be renewed through the TSA at least every five (5) years, unless a shorter time frame is specified by a driver's particular state.

When renewing a Hazmat endorsement, CDL drivers will be required to submit to a new threat assessment, including fingerprinting and background check. Drivers will need to check with their individual states regarding length of Hazmat endorsement.

What Is It Like Hauling Hazardous Materials?

We'd like to share some excellent insights from professional drivers in our trucker's forum who haul hazardous materials, especially involving chemical tankers.

From bubbarolls in My Short Lived Experience With Hazmat Tanker:

What I Did Not Like About Hauling Chemical Tankers

  • wearing hazmat PPE (personal protective equipment) and sweating in places I didn't know I could sweat in making you prone to dehydration and heat exhaustion. It feels like you're wearing an extra 20 lbs and it didn't fit right in certain places even with a bigger size suit.
  • chemical plants - "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore"... some were clean, but many were dirty, dusty, and a maze to get through with very tight turns. you will get dirty.
  • the added responsibilities of making sure the paper work is correct and that you have the right placards due to HAZMAT regulations
  • driving a loaded tanker with front & backward surge, and slosh pulling the tanker in all different directions.
  • remembering to stop at all railroad crossing.

Even as a tanker driver you do quite a bit of backing in tight spaces in the unloading areas of chemical plants.

What I Did Like About Hauling Chemical Tankers:

  • automatic trucks
  • driving (lots of fun pulling a tanker down the road).
  • decent hotel stay with microwave/fridge, wifi, and even a pool and within walking distance to stores and places to eat.
  • orientation was very, very informative and the daily lunch was delicious.
  • company personnel and were nice and treated you like a decent human being.
  • trainer was professional and easy to get along with.

From ThinksTooMuch in What Is It Like Pulling Chemical Tankers?:

Tanker drivers generally get paid more than dry van or reefer drivers. But flatbed drivers also get paid more than dry van and reefer. The reasons are because there is some physical labor involved and some added danger of driving a tanker or flatbed. There are probably only 150,000 tanker drivers out of the several million truck drivers in total, same with flatbed drivers, I am not sure of the number but it is smaller than dry van/reefer drivers.

From Brett Aquila with regards to hauling oil tankers in What Is It Like Pulling Chemical Tankers?:

Working in the oil fields is completely different. For one, there's usually a lot of manual labor involved. You're not just driving, you're working on the sites also and the work is dirty and dangerous. Secondly, the oil fields you choose to work in make all the difference. North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas are the biggest regions and they're all completely different from each other when it comes to finding housing, pay rates, and of course climate. You have a nice choice of climate - you can work in the 95 degree pseudo-desert heat all summer in Texas or in 35 below zero pseudo-arctic temps in North Dakota! Fun, fun choices.

From Old School regarding truck driver's salary for hauling hazardous chemicals in the conversation Food Grade Or Chemical Tanker:

It's a funny thing how people seem to think if they are hauling something dangerous they will be making more money. It is not necessarily true. You can make some good money hauling a food grade tanker. Hazmat is not all it is thought to be when it comes to earnings.

From Pete with regard to the manual labor involved with pulling a chemical tanker from Chemical Tanker Lifestyle Vs Reefer Lifestyle:

There is a fair amount of physical labor involved; if you're not keen on tarping, you might not be keen on offloading chemicals. The hoses are not light, and you will be climbing up and down the ladder to the top of your tanker several times. In the summertime, you'll find yourself dripping with perspiration, and you won't be even halfway done yet. There are times when the customer will unload your trailer, but there are also times when you're doing the unload yourself. I never know until I get there how it's going to go. But if you're 60 and not in great shape, maybe you should rethink this.

DOT Classifications of Hazardous Materials:

Hazard Class 1: Explosives

  • 1.1 mass explosion hazard
  • 1.2 projectile hazard
  • 1.3 minor blast/projectile/fire
  • 1.4 minor blast
  • 1.5 insensitive explosives
  • 1.6 very insensitive explosives

Hazard Class 2: Compressed Gases

  • 2.1 flammable gases
  • 2.2 non flammable compressed
  • 2.3 poisonous

Hazard Class 3: Flammable Liquids

  • Flammable (flash point below 141°)
  • Combustible (flash point 141°-200°

Hazard Class 4: Flammable Solids

  • 4.1 flammable solids
  • 4.2 spontaneously combustible
  • 4.3 dangerous when wet

Hazard Class 5: Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides

  • 5.1 Oxidizer
  • 5.2 Organic Peroxide

Hazard Class 6: Toxic Materials

  • 6.1 Material that is poisonous
  • 6.2 Infectious Agents

Hazard Class 7: Radioactive Material

  • Radioactive I
  • Radioactive II
  • Radioactive III

Hazard Class 8: Corrosive Material

  • Destruction of the human skin
  • Corrode steel at a rate of 0.25 inches per year

Hazard Class 9: Miscellaneous

Any material that presents a hazard during shipment but does not meet the definition of the other classes. For example:

  • Magnetized material
  • Elevated temperature goods
  • Dry ice
  • Asbestos
  • Environmentally hazardous substances
  • Life-saving appliances
  • Engines, internal combustion
  • Polymeric beads
  • Battery-powered equipment or vehicle
  • Zinc Dithonite

Any driver looking for some really heavy further reading can read through the ENTIRE HAZMAT materials table. Enjoy!


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.


A refrigerated trailer.


Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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