Life Of A Tank Driver

Topic 13196 | Page 1

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Dan E.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey there! my name is dan and i would like to share my experiences(very little) of what you do as a tank driver as well as other random observations. I am currently with Prime Inc. and have been driving solo for a little over a month so i'm a newb at this but i hope you will be patient with me.

Prime tankers haul food grade liquid, mostly oils. So far i've hauled coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, and apple juice. I've never driven with a box trailer behind me except for cdl school so I cant really compare but i do find the prime tanks are pretty hard to drive smoothly. Accelerating was super difficult for me starting out and is still a bit rocky. Even the slightest bit of acceleration makes the truck rock forward then backward like 1 or 2 seconds after pressing the accelerator. Ive learned that when double clutching you have to wait a few seconds while in neutral or else i grind the gears and have trouble putting in in the next gear. Stopping is a little easier you just have to be really smooth and gentle with the brake pedal.

Most of the time i have carried at or close to full capacity. when loaded id say about 95% of the time i weigh around 78-79 thousand pounds. Only 1 time in virginia was i nervous i would get inspected, i was close to 80k and they had me wait on the scale for a couple minutes :o. When you get empty tankers have to go to a tank wash to get the trl washed inside. Not at the blue beacons but at local tank washes all over the country. I've found that most of them are nice and friendly. The nice thing about washes is that all of them have overnight parking and most have showers(albeit some i wouldn't wanna take a shower in them if you know what i mean) and laundry on site. My favorite so far has been the one in Kankakee near Chicago! They cook you nice hot food for free! (well technically not free since you are paying for the wash but you know what i mean). I've run as far north as Quebec Canada, as far south as Savannah Georgia and as far west as Eau Claire Wisconsin. BUT my next load has me going to Waco Texas, am excited about that. Not excited about loading in downtown Chicago....

Some random oberservations so far out on the open road. Yesterday in Ohio on the turnpike a trucker honked the air horn at me as he was driving by. A little background, it was snowing and the visibility was less than half a mile. Granted the roads were not slick but still I was shocked when the guy/gal did that, first time it happened to me. I was going 50, so yes i was a snail, but i thought the conditions called for it. Today i was on i80 heading towards Chicago and on that road the limit is 55 but seems like everyone is in a hurry. all going 65 and all(i mean 99% all bumper to bumper). I was going 55 and everyone kept passing me I kept saying smith system, smith system so i wouldnt join in on the fun, but sometimes its nerve wracking and frustrating seeing this chaos. Prime trucks are known to be one of the slowest trucks on the road and i make it worse sometimes trying to get my fuel bonus by staying at 57 all day even in good weather and speed limits of 65-70( ive heard that going too slow is a danger to other drivers). I feel like sometimes i am the loner, the only trucks i pass are when im going up a hill empty and on the side of the road!

Ill try and update this as much as possible with news observations and pics.

Here are my paychecks so far as a newb.

1) 2307 miles, 938.19 gross, 898.37 net 2) 2953 miles, 1353.90 gross, 1244.80 net 3) 2514 miles, 979.38 gross, 944.13 net $) 2167 miles, 834.29 gross, 813.50 net 5) 1055 miles, 406.17 gross, 406.02 net

For anyone interested Prime is a great company, and the tanker division is a nice way to start as well if you are interested in tanks.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard Dan!

Great first post - I love it when a new person who is already driving a truck comes in here and doesn't have an ax to grind on their first post.

Driving Food grade tankers has a whole new level of challenges that most truck drivers don't even know about. You just keep that Smith System on your mind and take it slow and easy. You will always come out ahead with that approach.

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

How many exemptions are you claiming for a 30-40 dollar difference between gross and net? Payroll taxes (social security/ medicare) are 7.65% or so. What is your per diem?

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

Joseph D.'s Comment
member avatar

Damn those are some good miles and paychecks. If you dont mind me asking What's your CPM? Weekly pay checks? And home time?

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Dan E.'s Comment
member avatar

I claim 2 exemptions on my taxes. Here is a breakdown of the exact pay from my last 2 settlements.

4) 2167 miles, 834.29 gross, -59.27 federal, -63.83 fica, -35.05 state = -158.15 total, + 173.36 per diem , - 35 for tanker tools that i need and -1 for fuel card charge. 813.50 net

5) 1055 miles, 406.17 gross, - 8.59 federal, -31.07 fica, -8.89 state = -48.55 total, + 84.40 per diem, -35 for tanker tools and -1 for fuel charge card. 406.02 net

cents per mile is 46. I was told by payroll that i get paid 38 cents per mile taxed and the rest non taxed.

I also do not have medical/dental/vision with Prime. I had it before starting with them and it is good till september then I will have to buy a plan with Prime. The benefits lady told me it starts around 65 dollars per week for just yourself. So you will have to add that if you do not currently have a plan.

At Prime they give you 1 day off for every 7 days on the road, and a maximum of 4 straight days. I took 3 days off last week, im not sure what will happen in the future, i guess it depends on how much I make and how much I miss home....

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Dan, I thought that there was a per diem in there somewhere! I wasn't questioning your honesty, just couldn't figure out why net and gross were so close to each other. Those are nice numbers for a rookie driver. I hope mine look similar when I start driving. Thanks for the update

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for posting Dan. We rarely get tanker stories in here because most new drivers start out pulling a reefer or van. This is mostly a site geared towards newbs.

I have special interest in your posts because I was in contact with Prime about going with their tank division, and I had an interest in pulling a tank in general. I'm a linehaul driver for an LTL company, so I pull doubles - not a tank. But, we have to have our tank, doubles / triples, and hazmat endorsements, and I do haul totes every now and then. I had a load recently of corrosive bulk that was definitely pushing me forward and backward - about the closest I'll come to pulling a tank.

I'll be following your posts. Quick question, are you company or lease? I heard a lot of Prime tankers are lease ops.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Quick note. The topic of owner / op and lease / op has been banned on this site to keep in line with the forum's goals. So, I was just curious which you were Dan - no need to go into any pros / cons of company vs. lease, in case you were going to elaborate.smile.gif

Robert A.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Dan. Nice post. I start PSD March 7th and was wondering if you went straight to tanker after phase 2. I was under the impression that tanker division required experience. Looks like you're off to a good start in your career. Keep up the good work.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Dan E.'s Comment
member avatar

I went with company driver because I didnt feel like i knew enough about trucking to go all on my own. Prime was good about it too! My FM asked me if I wanted to go Company or Lease, I said company and that was it and the end of it. Ive heard of some companies that push you to lease... I have seen a lot of prime tankers that are lease. Im not sure if they are doing good or bad, haven't talked with any of them about that yet.

I started as a B seat. I went to a private school to get my CDL License, I just felt like it would be easier since it was close to home. Prime does hire new tank drivers with no experience! Im proof of it lol.

Today I got up at 3:30am and started my pre trip, usually 15 minutes just going over the truck and trailer. Was about 90 miles to the receiver(Kerry Ingredients/Vesper, WI) and was a nice easy drive. The nice thing about small companies and companies that are stationed in small towns is that there are no tight turns getting there and very little traffic once there. I got there around 6am and was the only one there, the office wasn't even opened yet. They have a nice big dirt lot to turn around and park overnight if you are out of hours. So i got out and just walked around to see if i could find anyone. Didn't so i went back to my truck and took a nice nap. 45 minutes later a guy came to the truck, I gave him my papers and he told me to pull into this big garage with 2 ends. Nice, I don't have to back at all. Once inside i asked him if he needed any help he said no and I got back in the truck. 1 hour later he knocks on my door, and gives me a signed copy of the bill of lading and off I went.

That was one of the nicest receivers to go to. easy drive to get there, lots of parking, just pull through a garage, and wait 1 hour. Its not always this easy and relaxing but its not uncommon either. Once I get a load that I have to use the pump ill try and explain how that works.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
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