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What’s a dangerous goods or DG placard?

A dangerous goods placard is a diamond-shaped warning sign or label displayed on a truck, trailer, portable tank or container that either conveys information about the specific hazards and risks of the goods carried, or is a generic warning that dangerous goods are carried. They are used by emergency services to understand what action to take if there’s a spill or crash.

Generic dangerous goods placard

Drivers who carry dangerous goods need to pass a D endorsement course and pay for the D endorsement on their driver licence.

Types of placard

Vehicles will either show a permanent sticker or placard where that’s the only type of dangerous good that will be carried, or will have a flip sign which can be changed to the required placard depending on the goods carried.

B-trains with four flip sign placards to cater for the primary and secondary risk in each part of the trailer combination

Do dangerous goods placards have to be displayed all the time?

Dangerous goods placards have to be displayed on a vehicle when it’s travelling on a road when certain weights, volumes or masses of dangerous goods are exceeded. For quantities under 50kg or 50 litres, usually no placard is required – these are dangerous goods in limited quantities or DGLQ.

If the vehicle is carrying containers that used to carry dangerous goods, and they are empty but they haven’t been cleaned, dangerous goods placards must still be shown.

If the vehicle is not carrying dangerous goods, DG placards must be removed or covered.

What are the specifications of a dangerous goods placard?

There are minimum dimensions of 250x250mm for placards for general freight and 400x400mm for tank wagons.

They must be carried either on the front and back of the truck or combination, or on either side.

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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