Life Of A Tank Driver

Topic 13196 | Page 2

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Rob S.'s Comment
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Smith System? Never heard of this, what is it? And Prime trucks aren't the slowest. I'm a Swifty and when I want to pass someone, I do a whole mental exercise first. It happens so rarely that I want to make sure I don't mess up. :)

6 string rhythm's Comment
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I'll reiterate what Dan said and mention that I could've started as a tanker driver too without experience. I believe I might have had to do some training with a reefer driver, but could start solo then in the tank division.

Most of the tanks I know of run the northeast and midwest, not many going coast to coast for Prime. Where are you located Dan?


A refrigerated trailer.

Old School's Comment
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Smith System? Never heard of this, what is it?

Rob, the Smith System is a defensive driving method that is taught to many truck drivers either while in school or during a company orientation. It basically has 5 Key Points for driving safety that a professional driver can focus on practicing. I don't have a lot of time this morning to explain it all to you but here's a link to the Smith System web site where you can see the five key points and maybe learn a little bit about it.

Robert A.'s Comment
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Thanks 6 string for adding your experience with tanker. Looks like I'll need to inquire about tanker when I get to Prime. Sounds very interesting.

6 string rhythm's Comment
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Thanks 6 string for adding your experience with tanker. Looks like I'll need to inquire about tanker when I get to Prime. Sounds very interesting.

You probably want to check with your recruiter beforehand, if tank is what you're interested in. Not sure what you meant by your comment, but if they're expecting you to join their reefer division, they might need a head's up if you prefer tank instead. The way my recruiter from Prime talked, it sounded like he needed to know ahead of time what division I was interested in.


A refrigerated trailer.

Robert A.'s Comment
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I forgot that on my application I only checked reefer. Maybe it'll be something I can look into later on, but nonetheless I'm excited to get learning and moving forward with this career.


A refrigerated trailer.

PJ's Comment
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Tanks are a different world. I pull chemicals and sometimes they are food grade. Your driving has to be more spot on than with any other type of trailer. Shifting has to be a rythm with the slosh. Also know whats in the tank. The thicker stuff doesn't move around nearly as much. smooth and steady is always the order of the day. I was in an automatic for awhile and hated it. I'm back in a manual and much better for me. Tank washes run the gamit. East st louis has a nice one, but some are pits. Most are tight and crowded.

Dan E.'s Comment
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Wow, time flies. its been 5 months since my last post. anyways just wanted to give an update of my current situation.

first off, i have learned soooo much in the past 6 months ive been out on the road. the biggest thing i have learned so far is always always be alert and be ready to react in any situation. when you get tired and carless or in a hurry is when you make mistakes. ive had 3 incidents all of my own doing that has been negative and could have been avoided with proper rest and not being in a rush.

1) i was in port newark nj at a receiver for a dropnhook. easy enough except that i was in a rush to get hooked up and find a place to park for the night. i ended up not goaling and damaged another one of our trailers. wasent bad damage but enough to have to report it to road assist.

2) had 14 hours on my clock but was super tired( for some reason i didnt sleep much, dont remember why). got a load from port newark nj to st albans vt. was about 340 miles to the receiver. i knew i was going to struggle to make it but i tried my best. d rove straight to st albans about 3 hours early and found a rest stop about 5 miles from the receiver, i was like sweet ill take a nap for a couple hours before i have to get there and unload. well i ended up sleeping for 5 hours. when i woke up i immediatly knew i was late because it was sunny out and i was suppose to be there before there was light. i felt really embarrassed, but i explained it to dispatch and apologized. he never said anything to me about that.

3) i was in port newark nj getting ready to hook up to a loaded trailer and i was super tired as i had to drive from stratham.nh down to here with my clock winding down and little rest. well i got out of the truck to unhook my clean empty trailer and as i tried to get back in i had this big sinking feeling in my stomach. yes i locked myself out of the truck. had to call a locksmith to get me in. that took 3 hours and i ended up being late to my receiver. now i have a spare attached near my drive tires.

the conclusion i have come to realize is that i make mistakes when rushing andor tired. btw all these incidents happened between midnight and 2 am. so i try and avoid to do anything other than sleep or drive during those times.

so please do not rush yourself, i have to remind myself of that all the time. also whatever amount of sleep you need to function and be alert, please get it before starting what you need to do.

like a lot of the good drivers here, to make good money and be at or near the top you need to hustle and ive noticed you need to manipulate your hos logbook. for instance, you arrive at a receiver and immediatly log off duty so when your done you have a head start on those who log on duty unloading. however when i do that i usually end up with a nice load only to be a little sleepy and only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep even though your logbook says you got 10 hours. i want to be available to my dispatch as much as possible but its tough to work like that all the time with less sleep than normal.

ive been with prime 9 months, 6 solo and did put an application in to howolding for their short haul gig. they said 20$ hour/ 50-70 hours a week home every other night and weekends off. i did the math and it seems like i could make a lot of money while being home more often, but do not get unpaid time off, so the most days i coukd take off in a row would be 2 on the weekend. with prime i can take up to 4 days in a row, but i would need to be out 4 weeks in a row. i really enjoy my free time and is one of the reasons i have looked into leasing with prime,. they let you take hometime whenever you want, and a couple of the prime drivers that lease that i have talked to said they make about 300 more per paycheck than i do. but i dont want to make a convo about leasing here.

i still really enjoy trucking and i feel like i could do this for the rest of my life, but at the same time the time on the road by myself for long stretches is getting to me. im a loner at heart and i love bejng alone, yet its tough to me. i respect the guys who make otr a living a lot.


A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.


Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bryn J.'s Comment
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Thanks for the update Dan, enjoyed the read.

Be safe out there.

Dan E.'s Comment
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Another update!!!

im now on month 14 with prime and 11 solo. since my last update everything has been going well. Ive only been late once, was at the shipper and had 2-1/2 hours to go 29 miles! easy right? nope, i was going to brooklyn!!! man you need to leave yourself 3 hours to get through there and the traffic. stop and go for a good 2 hours, and i thought the george washington bridge was bad.

when i first started driving a truck i was so scared of it and all the gears you have to shift. hills were like my kryptonite. but now its second nature, very rarely do i grind a gear now, even up hill. for everyone nervous about driving a stick, dont be, in time it will be like riding a bike.

id like to apologize to 6 strings rhythm for not answering your question, i live in upstate ny. im currently now a regional driver mostly new jersey, pennsylvannia, new york, ontario canada, and the new england states sometims.

i really like my fm , she tries to keep me in a rhythm and give me loads i have done before. i usually pick up a load in port newark nj on sunday and head to ontario for a monday delivery. i get back on tuesday and do short runs till friday and have saturday and sunday mornings off most of the time. sometimes ill get another ontario load on thursday for a friday delivery and on the way back go by my house for a 34 hour reset.

on the flip side there are times i get depressed, ive had depression symptoms since a child and there are days where i feel down, but not really anything to do with prime, just life issues ya know?

im almost at 100k miles which im very proud of. think ill get it next week, so 11 months and 1 week, not bad.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.


Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.


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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