Webinar Report: Mastering Hazardous Material Hauling Compliance with Placard Wizard

NMFTA - November 3, 2023

Haulers of hazardous materials know how critical it is to properly placard their loads. If they don’t, they could not only face fines from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), but they could also be putting themselves and others on the road—particularly first responders—at risk.

The reason is simple: When people don’t know what hazardous materials are inside a trailer or a tanker, they don’t have the information they need to take the proper precautions.

For this reason, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has partnered with Placard Wizard—a software platform that automates placarding as well as the segregation of items that would present the risk of damage or safety hazards if they were placed together on the same trailer.

Placard Wizard is an app developed by The Joseph Company, an Arnold, Missouri-based company that recognizes the pitfalls of hauling hazardous materials without the proper placards. At the top of that list would be issues with regulatory compliance, of course, but safety issues—for truck drivers and the general public—also come into play.

The app makes it easy for drivers to produce accurate hazmat placards for trucks that haul hazardous materials and, as a result, achieve consistent 49 CFR Part 172 compliance.

During a November 2 webinar, Rick Rice, a partner at Placard Wizard was joined by Justin Sharkey, a director of safety for Dayton Freight Lines, to share how others in the industry can make the best use of Placard Wizard.

Among the major points they shared:

  • Placard and segregation software help carriers avoid fines, improve their DOT safety scores, enhance public safety, and avoid experiencing out-of-service time for their trailers.
  • Accurate placarding through automation helps carriers comply with the hazardous materials table.
  • The segregation side of the software is also critical, as it saves carriers the trouble of having items near each other in violation of segregation regulations.

In a separate interview, Rice offered an example.

“Something that contains cyanides cannot ride with acids,” Rice said. “So, if somebody picks up a poison cyanide and they go from one shipper down the road to another shipper, and then they go pick up some Dr. Pepper, the cyanides and the acids are now comingled in transit.”

That would represent a deadly poison. The segregation function of Placard Wizard prevents it from happening because it tells the driver before he loads the acid onto the trailer that it can’t be there with the cyanide.

Many LTL carriers prefer not to carry certain potentially hazardous items, such as gunpowder or other explosives. Placard Wizard can integrate that preference into a company’s transportation management system (TMS).

Indeed, since Placard Wizard integrates seamlessly with all major TMS platforms, it incorporates such information easily while reducing the likelihood of errors from repeated data entry.

Placard Wizard also prevents issues related to insufficient training of employees handling hazardous materials and misclassifying materials that would lead to dangerous situations and violations.

Considering its application for the transport industry, it’s no surprise that Placard Wizard comes with a mobile application. This mobile app is critical for drivers responsible for transporting hazardous materials.

Drivers can use the mobile app for:

  • Accessing placard solutions when they are picking up hazardous materials.
  • Ensuring compliance with placarding regulations.
  • Improving safety and efficiency in the handling of hazardous cargo.

The software can also perform proactive segregation checks. Embedding hazmat data into the freight bill ensures proper segregation so as not to risk the need for future unloading and reloading, not to mention the risk of freight damage or safety issues.

“We’ve been using it for eight to 10 years, and it’s eliminated most of our issues,” Sharkey said. “A lot of the drivers know the basics, but they miss the one-off placard requirements. When we first rolled this out, we had some drivers who didn’t trust it. But we also put a computer in our dispatch office—in our break room —so the drivers could check it as well. We’ve only had four or five placarding-related violations within the past 10 years. The placarding piece has been a non-existent problem for us.”

Because of NMFTA’s partnership with Placard Wizard, NMFTA members who want to make use of it will receive a discount on the platform’s annual fee.

To learn more, contact marketing@nmfta.org.


The National Motor Freight Traffic Association promotes, advances, and improves the welfare and interests of the motor carrier industry and less than truckload carriers operating in commerce, both domestically and/or internationally.

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