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49 CFR 397: Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules

This part of the federal regulations applies to all drivers of commercial motor vehicles transporting hazardous materials that must be marked or placarded in accordance with §177.823 of this title, to all motor carriers who are involved with the transportation of hazardous materials, and to each employee of the motor carrier who performs supervisory duties related to the transportation of hazardous materials. All concerned must know and obey these regulations. If the hazardous materials must be marked or placarded, the driver of these materials must follow the regulations found in parts 390-397.


If the driver of a commercial motor vehicle is hauling explosives he cannot leave his vehicle unattended unless it is parked on either company property, the shipper or receiver's property, a safe haven*, or, if the truck is loaded with less than 50 pounds of explosives, it can remain on a survey or construction site. A driver must be certain that the recipient of the explosives knows what they are and what to do in the event of an emergency. If the truck is left unattended, it must always remain in clear view of the driver. A vehicle that carries hazardous materials apart from Class A or B explosives and is located on a public street or highway must always be attended by the driver unless the driver is forced to leave the vehicle in order to perform duties necessary to resume driving.

*a safe haven is anywhere approved by local, state, or U.S. Government officials where commercial motor vehicles can be parked and left unattended.

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49 CFR §397.7: PARKING

Drivers carrying explosives cannot park on or within 5 feet of any roadway, on private property without permission, within 300 feet of a bridge, tunnel, house, or any place where people congregate unless it is impossible to park the vehicle elsewhere. If the driver is carrying any kind of hazardous material he must stop at least 5 feet from the traveled part of the highway except for short periods when the vehicle must be parked and it is impossible to park anywhere else.

49 CFR §397.11: FIRES

When transporting hazardous materials, a driver must not park within 300 feet of a fire or drive anywhere near an open fire unless precautions are taken to ensure a safe passage.

49 CFR §397.13: SMOKING

No one is allowed to smoke within 25 feet of a motor vehicle containing explosives, oxidizing or flammable materials, or an empty trailer that has transported placarded flammable liquids in the past.

49 CFR §397.15: FUELING

The engine of a commercial motor vehicle must be turned off and someone must always be in attendance when the vehicle is being refueled.

49 CFR §397.17: TIRES

All tires must be inspected at the beginning of a trip, whenever the vehicle is parked, and either every two hours or 100 miles, whichever comes first. Overheated tires must be removed and taken away from the vehicle to cool, and the driver must not drive the vehicle again until the cause of the overheating is discovered and corrected.


Any driver carrying Class A or Class B explosives needs to know what type of explosives he is transporting, and also what emergency steps would need to be taken if an emergency such as a fire, accident or leak were to occur. The driver is required to carry a copy of the rules in part 397 of the federal regulations along with a document instructing him on what to do in the event of an accident or delay.


A driver must plan all routes carefully and avoid heavily populated areas like places where crowds gather, tunnels, or alleys when transporting non-radioactive hazardous materials. A driver transporting Class 1, Division 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 explosives must have a written route plan before leaving the terminal, but if the trip doesn't begin at the terminal the driver can produce a handwritten route plan.

Click here to view the text of 49 CFR §397 in its entirety.

Next federal trucking law: 49 CFR 350: Commercial Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program

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