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Ask a Trooper: Many responsibilities and requirements in transporting hazardous materials

Questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota may be sent to Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow at 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, MN 56560. You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or email him at jesse.grabow@state.mn.us

Close-up of Minnesota State Patrol trooper's squad vehicle
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Question: I’m thinking about getting a commercial driver’s license with a hazardous materials endorsement. Do I need to have a background or some education in basic chemistry?

Answer: No, but there are many responsibilities and requirements in dealing with hazardous materials. For example, you need to know when to use placards and which products can be loaded together.

Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk to health, safety and property during transportation. The term often is shortened to HAZMAT, which you may see on road signs, or to HM in government regulations. Hazardous materials include explosives, various types of gas, solids, and flammable and combustible liquid. All levels of government regulate the handling of hazardous materials.

To get a hazardous materials endorsement on a commercial driver’s license, you must pass a written test. To pass, you must know how to:

  • Identify what are hazardous materials.
  • Safely load shipments.
  • Properly placard your vehicle in accordance with the rules.
  • Safely transport shipments.

Transporting hazardous materials can be risky. The regulations are intended to protect you, those around you and the environment. They tell shippers how to package the materials safely and drivers how to load, transport and unload the material. These are called "containment rules."
Shippers must warn drivers and others about the material's hazards. The regulations require shippers to put hazard warning labels on packages, provide proper shipping papers, emergency response information and placards. These steps communicate the hazard to the shipper, the carrier and the driver.

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Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow
Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow
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