Driving A Tanker

Topic 4087 | Page 1

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Gary A.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't know why, but over the past couple of weeks, I've taken a liking to tankers. Maybe it's all the valves and tubes, etc plus the interaction of loading and unloading. ANYWAY, a few questions:

1). Do tanker drivers drive coast-to-coast? Seems like most tankers I see are local guys. 2). Do tanker drivers have to be hazmat certified? (I will be anyway, just curious). 3). I seem to see VERY few accidents involving tankers, most every accident (and there's at LEAST one a week here in Atlanta) involve flatbeds, reefers and box trailers. Are they easier to drive? Or are tanker drivers required to have more experience?? 4). Do tankers ever need to be backed in? I can't imagine there would be a need to back a tanker (other than truck stops).

Like I say, I just think they're COOL..Saw a couple of guys operating the valves, hoses, etc and that sort of appeals to me, to be "involved and active" at my stops. Know what I mean??

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

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Gary A.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't know why, but over the past couple of weeks, I've taken a liking to tankers. Maybe it's all the valves and tubes, etc plus the interaction of loading and unloading. ANYWAY, a few questions:

1). Do tanker drivers drive coast-to-coast? Seems like most tankers I see are local guys.

2). Do tanker drivers have to be hazmat certified? (I will be anyway, just curious).

3). I seem to see VERY few accidents involving tankers, most every accident (and there's at LEAST one a week here in Atlanta) involve flatbeds, reefers and box trailers. Are they easier to drive? Or are tanker drivers required to have more experience??

4). Do tankers ever need to be backed in? I can't imagine there would be a need to back a tanker (other than truck stops).

Like I say, I just think they're COOL..Saw a couple of guys operating the valves, hoses, etc and that sort of appeals to me, to be "involved and active" at my stops. Know what I mean??

Sorry..maybe this is easier to read..

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

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Heavy C's Comment
member avatar

I know one tip I got from a tanker guy. If you are going to be pulling any hazmat loads or doing any fuel/oil hauling make sure you get your TWIC card before starting. I guess a lot of beginners aren't made aware of this and when you're hauling fuels that's going to be your security clearance to get into the shipping ports. They also say that it can take up to a few months to get this card so jump on it early. I don't drive tanker though so that's as much help as I can offer. Good luck to you!

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

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

Gary, its not a bad thing to ponder but don't get too ahead of yourself. One step at a time buddy.

1. This really depends on the carrier. At Prime, our tanker division is based in the East. At Schneider, they run their tankers regional and OTR. Reefer has by far the most coast to coast runs, tanker doesn't get that much coast to coast.

2. If you're hauling anything other than food grade then you must have hazmat. Food grade tankers are much more difficult to drive because they don't have baffles but they also don't require the hazmat endorsement. if you're going to be hauling anything flammable you'll need the hazmat. But as you said, you already have it and there's no reason any tanker driver shouldn't have it.

3. Tankers are definitely not easier to drive, especially food grade tankers. The liquid sloshes back and forth and has even force to push you forward, left, or right. You always have to be in control of it. There is no disputing that tankers are much more difficult. They also usually require experience before they'll even look at you. That's probably why you see less tanker accidents - they have years of experience.

4. Not nearly as much as reefer/dry van. Occasionally you'll have to but if you're hauling a tanker then backing shouldn't be an issue for you anymore. Tankers are usually shorter trailers which make them a lot easier to back up in tight spaces though.

I'm actually planning on going tanker eventually. But by then I'll have two or more years of experience.

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

Regional:

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.

OTR:

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.

Baffle:

A partition or separator within a liquid tank, used to inhibit the flow of fluids within the tank. During acceleration, turning, and braking, a large liquid-filled tank may produce unexpected forces on the vehicle due to the inertia of liquids.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Chief's Comment
member avatar

I've been pulling chemical tankers for a year now. I agree with just about everything posted here except part of Daniel's response to #4.

For fuel tankers, which are typically local hauls, it pretty much is a pull-through type of driving. Most fuel depots are set up so you pull-in to the loading racks and then pull straight through when you're done. Same when you offload, pull into one side of the station and out the other side. Some airports can be different, just depends how the fuel farm is set up.

Can't really say much about food grade as I have never done that or been anywhere where food grade loaded/unloaded.

Here's where I differ from Daniel's response. I can't think of one single place I've been where I didn't have to back up or do some creative maneuvering to get loaded or unloaded. Most chemical plants are VERY tight on space. In my experience (and I have pulled reefers) backing up a chemical tanker can and usually does rival any spot you would have to stick a box.

So...just because one drives a tanker doesn't necessarily mean you won't be backing up. I would just recommend keeping that in mind.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't see how backing a tanker can be more difficult. Maybe the spot might be tighter but with a tanker you have so much more visibility and you're 5 feet shorter.

Chief's Comment
member avatar

I don't see how backing a tanker can be more difficult. Maybe the spot might be tighter but with a tanker you have so much more visibility and you're 5 feet shorter.

I never stated it was more 'difficult', just that backing up a chemical tanker could rival practically any backing up situation with a box trailer. Until you've actually been inside a chemical plant and can see first hand some of the places you have to back into it's very difficult to understand.

Granted there may be more visibility width and height wise on a tanker but it's the same concept. You're backing up using the edge of the trailer and having to feel where the other side is. Many times there are poles, pipes, catwalks and the such that you have to be aware of that you won't find at a food distro warehouse.

Anyway, the whole point to my reply to the OP was that just because you are in a tanker doesn't mean you won't be backing up much. That's all I was trying to convey, not that any specific type of trailer is more difficult than others.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

I don't see how backing a tanker can be more difficult. Maybe the spot might be tighter but with a tanker you have so much more visibility and you're 5 feet shorter.

double-quotes-end.png

I never stated it was more 'difficult', just that backing up a chemical tanker could rival practically any backing up situation with a box trailer. Until you've actually been inside a chemical plant and can see first hand some of the places you have to back into it's very difficult to understand.

Granted there may be more visibility width and height wise on a tanker but it's the same concept. You're backing up using the edge of the trailer and having to feel where the other side is. Many times there are poles, pipes, catwalks and the such that you have to be aware of that you won't find at a food distro warehouse.

Anyway, the whole point to my reply to the OP was that just because you are in a tanker doesn't mean you won't be backing up much. That's all I was trying to convey, not that any specific type of trailer is more difficult than others.

Yeah, that I understand. I was more so thinking of truck stop backings. But I've seen those plants, they're a mess. I see what you're saying.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

I don't know why, but over the past couple of weeks, I've taken a liking to tankers. ... ...Know what I mean??

I totally get the attraction. Tankers are cool. They're mean, dangerous-looking, dangerous-for-real, and bad-ass. I hope I don't offend anyone out there but from what I've seen, the food-grade tanker drivers are the smooooothest drivers out there, because they have to be, driving smooth bore tanks full (or worse - half full) of sloshing liquid. THAT's why I want to be one. I watched, mesmerized one cold, sunny, winter morning, a few months ago, as a food-grade tanker driver pulled up to a weigh station not far from where I live. The truck and tank shined in the crisp morning sunlight when the driver pulled in as smoothly as a seasoned fighter pilot, warm air steaming up around him. It was kewl! He sailed - totally in control of his rig. I was so impressed, I was pumped about the possibility of driving one, myself. Caught in the moment, I'm almost positive I squeaked!

We have tons of tankers all over the freeway in Colorado and so far, the best trainer I've had (from CDL school) was a tanker driver. I learned the most from him and he kept standards the highest and btw, he was as cool as a cucumber, man. Never lost his nerve. He said, "Fighter pilots were just wanna-be truck drivers who couldn't pass the test." Heh-heh! That's bad-ass.

-mountain girl

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.
mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

I know one tip I got from a tanker guy. If you are going to be pulling any hazmat loads or doing any fuel/oil hauling make sure you get your TWIC card before starting. I guess a lot of beginners aren't made aware of this ...

Great tip! Thank you!

-mountain girl

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

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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