Commercial Vehicle Emergency Response communication Standards

To enhance communications pertaining to the identification and safe handling of hazardous materials involved in transportation incidents, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation has specific regulations on emergency response information in 49 CFR Subpart G (Parts 172.600 to 172.606), Emergency Response Information, that must accompany the hazardous material in intrastate and interstate transportation. The regulations impose requirements for emergency response information on shipping papers, and placement of emergency response information on vehicles and at transportation facilities.

This report provides details on PHMSA’s emergency response communications standards.

Information Required for Hazardous Material Transportation

The regulations apply to any person who offers or accepts for transportation, transfers, stores, or otherwise handles a hazardous material during transportation, unless the material is exempted from shipping paper requirements. The emergency response information must include:

  • The basic description and technical name of the hazardous material.
  • Immediate hazards to health.
  • Risks of fire or explosion.
  • Immediate precautions to be taken in the event of an accident or incident.
  • Immediate methods for handling fires.
  • Initial methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fire.
  • Preliminary first aid measures.

In addition, any person who offers a hazardous material for transportation must provide an emergency response telephone number (including the area code or international access code) for use in the event of an emergency involving the hazardous material. The telephone must be monitored at all times the hazardous material is in transportation, including storage incidental to transportation, by a person who is either knowledgeable of the hazards and characteristics of the material being shipped and has comprehensive emergency response and mitigation information for the material or has immediate access to a person who possesses such knowledge and information.

The emergency response telephone number must be the number of the person offering the hazardous material for transportation or the number of an agency or organization capable of, and accepting responsibility for, providing the detailed emergency response information concerning the hazardous material [e.g., Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC)]. A person who offers a hazardous material for transportation and lists the telephone number of an agency or organization must ensure that the agency or organization has received current information on the hazardous material. A telephone number that requires a call back (such as an answering service, answering machine, or beeper device) does not meet the requirements.

The regulations do not apply to hazardous materials that are offered for transportation under the provisions applicable to limited quantities and materials properly described under the following shipping names:

  • Battery powered equipment
  • Battery powered vehicle
  • Carbon dioxide, solid
  • Castor bean
  • Castor flake
  • Castor meal
  • Castor pomace
  • Consumer commodity
  • Dry ice
  • Engines, internal combustion
  • Fish meal, stabilized
  • Fish scrap, stabilized
  • Refrigerating machine
  • Vehicle, flammable gas powered
  • Vehicle, flammable liquid powered
  • Wheelchair, electric

Form of Hazardous Material Information

The required emergency response information must be printed legibly in English and be available for use away from the package containing the hazardous material. It must be entered on the shipping paper immediately following the description of the hazardous material or entered once on the shipping paper in a clearly visible location if the telephone number applies to each hazardous material entered on the shipping paper and if it is indicated that the telephone number is for emergency response information (for example: “EMERGENCY CONTACT: * * *).

Emergency Response Information Availability for Commercial Vehicles

Motor carriers must maintain the emergency response information in the vehicle in the same manner prescribed for shipping papers, so that it is immediately available to drivers for use in the event of an accident or incident. The information:

  • Must be within the driver's immediate reach, when restrained by the lap belt, and either readily visible to a person entering the driver's compartment or in a holder mounted inside the driver's door; or
  • When the driver is not at the vehicle's controls, it must be either in a holder mounted inside the driver's door or on the driver's seat in the vehicle.

Each operator of a facility where a hazardous material is received, stored, or handled during transportation must have the emergency response information in a location that is immediately accessible to facility personnel in the event of an incident involving the hazardous material.

Visit the American Family Insurance Loss Control Resource Center for more information on commercial vehicles and protecting your business.


Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Emergency Response Information. 49 CFR Subpart G (Parts 172.600 – 172.606). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation. August 5, 2008

COPYRIGHT ©2008, ISO Services, Inc.

The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.

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Related Topics: Safety Programs , Accident Investigation , Auto Fleet Safety