Commercial Driver's License (CDL) operators who wish to transport hazardous materials (HAZMAT) must have a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) on their license. Hazardous materials are broadly defined as any products that may pose a risk to safety, health or property during transportation. These HAZMAT materials may include various types of gas, solids, combustible and flammable liquids, explosives and other materials.
CDL Hazmat Test Overview
Your state CDL test will typically have 30 questions on Hazardous Materials. You will be required to receive a passing score of 80% which means that you must get 24 or more questions correct. The questions will evaluate your knowledge of Hazmat materials as specified in your state CDL manual. The questions on the exam will fall into one of the following categories:
- Intent of Regulations
- Bulk Tank Loading, Unloading, and Marking
- Driver Responsibilities
- Driving and Parking Rules
- Communicatons Rules
- Loading and Unloading
You are required to have a valid Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) if you plan on operating vehicles that require a Hazmat placard. A placard is a diamond-shaped warning sign that specifies information about the hazardous materials that are being transported.
In addition to understanding the material in your state CDL manual, your employer will also be required to provide additional training and testing on the handling of hazardous materials. Employers are required to train and test employees a minimum of once every three years. They are additionally required to maintain records of their training. This training must also include how to recognize and respond to potential security threats. Specific training is also required for drivers transporting certain flammable gas materials or driving on routes that control the quantity of radioactive materials. Drivers transporting cargo tanks and portable tanks must also receive specialized training.
Security Threat Assessment OverviewThe Transportation Security Administration (TSA) maintains a Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment Program that is designed to assess the security threat of any driver that is attempting to obtain, renew or transfer a hazardous materials endorsement on their state-issued commercial drivers license.
The program was designed to meet the requirements of the USA Patriot Act which specifically prohibits individual states from issuing licenses allowing hazardous materials to be transported in commerce unless the driver has been assessed to not be a security threat. The requirements of the Act includes background checks of criminal history, international databases, and legal status.
To be eligible for a HME, you must:
- Have a valid CDL license or permit
- Provide proof of legal status
- Provide proof of identity
HME Applicants must provide biographical information and be fingerprinted by a state authorized or TSA adminstered agent. Your state licensing agency will provide complete details including cost,locations and processes. In most cases your eligibility results will be returned within 30 days. Your results will be one of the following three cases:
- Eligible - You are eligible and your state will be notified directly by the TSA.
- Disqualifying Criteria - One or more disqualifying criteria have been found. You will be given 60 days to respond to the letter and you may choose to request and appeal, request a waiver or request a time extension
- Imminent Threat - Your state will be notified and if you currently hold a HME it will be revoked.