Hazardous material (hazmat) carriers haul materials including chemicals, flammable substances, radioactive materials, and other potentially dangerous products.
This type of trucking is highly specialized and requires additional training for drivers and licensing for carriers.
Because they are so specialized, the loads these carriers haul tend to be better paid.
Let’s take a look at what we can learn from the FMSCA 2023 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics and other sources about hazmat haulers in the US.
Number of Haz Mat Carriers Regulated by the FMCSA
At the end of 2022, there were a total of 763,867 interstate freight motor carriers. Of those, 93,838 were interstate hazmat carriers.
Given these numbers, hazmat carriers made up approximately 12.3 percent of all interstate carriers.
How do hazmat carriers get loads?
For-hire carriers may have contracted freight or work on the spot market.
Like many types of freight, hazmat haulers can look for loads on load boards. Platforms like DAT and Truckstop have filters to search specifically for hazmat loads.
[DAT One load board search for hazmat loads coming out of the Dallas area]
How to become a hazmat carrier
Because hazardous materials are more dangerous than standard freight, both drivers and carriers need to get additional permission from the government to haul hazmat.
Hazmat CDL Endorsements
To operate a vehicle hauling hazardous materials, you will need a hazmat endorsement on your Commercial Driver’s License.
To do this, you’ll need to take an additional course and pass a hazmat exam. This process may vary by state, so check with your state DOT or DMV for more details.
Then, you will need to submit an application to the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment Program.
- Most drivers will be able to apply online. However, if you are from Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, or Wisconsin, you will need to visit your local DMV in person for application and fingerprinting.
- Drivers must then schedule an appointment to visit the application center.
- During the visit, the driver will need to provide documentation and fingerprints, along with a non-refundable payment.
After completing these steps, you will need to wait up to 60 days to receive a response from TSA about your application status.
Carrier Safety Permits
Carriers that wish to haul hazardous materials need to file the MCS-150B form to start the application process for the Federal Hazardous Materials Safety Permit. The form can be submitted electronically or by mail.
Here is the information you need to submit the form:
- Legal business name
- DBA name
- Physical address
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- USDOT and MC numbers
- Dun and Bradstreet numbers
- EIN (tax ID)
- Email address
- Carrier Mileage
- Company operation type
- Operation classifications
- Cargo classification
In addition, if you are hauling certain quantities or types of hazardous materials as a carrier operating under your own authority, you have to register with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The registration and fee must be renewed each year and can be done online or by mail.
State requirements for safety permits may vary, so check with your state-level DOT or DMV for more information.
Apart from the additional permitting and licensing that go into hauling hazardous materials, carriers also need to get specialized insurance coverage.
When shopping around for your insurance, be sure to get at least three separate quotes. It’s important to work with an insurance broker who has experience in hazmat trucking. They will be able to guide you on the kind of coverage you need and the specific risks associated with the sector.
Of course, having a spotless driving record and safety scores with the FMCSA will be important for keeping the cost of hazmat insurance down.
The Final Word on Hazmat Hauling: Is It Worth It?
Professionalism, timeliness, and safety are of the utmost importance in trucking, but they are ten times more important in hazmat trucking.
Hauling hazmat requires a spotless driving record, exceptional processes, and a great deal of professionalism to succeed in building relationships with customers, keeping costs down, and avoiding heavy fines.
It’s up to you whether the higher rates due to specialization are worth the effort.