Keep in mind though; typically tanker truck drivers are skilled and have several years of experience operating other types of trucks before being offered the opportunity to drive a tanker truck.
The trucking and transportation industry is constantly changing, either because of new regulation, new equipment, new technology, or any combination. Therefore the training is an ongoing process, constantly keeping the driver’s skills up-to-date.
4. Tanker Truck Driver Wages
Though a tanker truck driver typically gets paid a little better than many other types of commercial drivers, the pay does vary.
Some of the reasons are the location, the product being transported, and your employment status (actual employee or an independent trucker/owner operator).
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Another factor to consider is the actual route and time on the road (miles). Is it local, across country?-The longer the route, the better mileage.
With that said, an average ‘employee’ tanker truck driver can make approximately $40,000 to $50,000 in a year, while the independent tanker driver/ OOP has an opportunity to make a little more, depending on the cargo and contract.
Though an independent seems to make more, remember they are responsible for all truck repair and maintenance costs on their trucks.
5. Tanker Truck Driving Lifestyle
This is the same as any other commercial truck driver. The tanker truck driver’s lifestyle largely depends on the product and the route they operate.
With a local CDL job the driver will be home most nights and weekends while an over the road driver (OTR) will be gone most weeks, if not many weekends as well.
Safety is such an important factor, even more so with dangerous or hazardous loads. The average tanker truck driver spends more time inspecting their tanks and loads than the average driver.
Of course they still have the same responsibilities to protect the freight and when it comes to vehicle maintenance and such.
Being a tanker truck driver is both rewarding and demanding at the same time.
6. Tanker Truck Handling Tips
Driving heavy tanker truck really does demand a different approach to driving than does a small or light load. Safety is always the number one concern.
With that said remember it takes longer to stop. Be aware of your blind spots, especially in heavy traffic. Cars and motorcycle can jump in before you have time to react.
So maintain a safe travelling speed and distance. Also you can’t take corners as sharply as other vehicles.
Something both experienced and inexperienced drivers need to be concerned with jack-knifing. Basically this is when your tanker truck (or any truck pulling a trailer) has the trailer slide around towards the front of the truck.
Once the trailer exceeds a 45 degree angle (compared to the normal straight line of travel), jack-knife will happen.
There are many reasons why this can happen, with experience being only one of them. The most common is when the trailer actually moves faster than the truck!
Tanker truck drivers (or any truck hauling a trailer) have a greater chance of experiencing this on icy or wet road or on one of the dangerous roads in USA. It has also occurred when the trailer is empty and the driver tries to brake too fast.
7. Type Of Tanker Trucks
I already covered what a tanker truck is (heavy, medium, light) and their loads limits and sizes. But what do they actually do? Of course they haul stuff, usually liquids or gases.
But they are also water trucks, milk trucks, they can transport fertilizer, propane, corn syrup, just about anything that comes in large quantities and is in a liquid state.
However, they also transport bulk dry products, such as grains, seeds, and sand.
So remember, even though you need a CDL with the proper endorsements, not everything you transport will be dangerous, toxic, and/or hazardous.
8. Tanker Truck Safety Requirements
Besides the usual CDL requirements and mandatory endorsements there are a few other considerations for tanker truck driver to consider.
Simple things like getting enough rest and visiting more often the truck stops. Observe the posted speed limits, but drive at speeds appropriate to the weather conditions.
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Besides those things listed above, the first thing is to be familiar with the cargo you are transporting. Know your route that you will travel.
Make sure to have an updated weather forecast, and keep it updated. Maintaining your truck in proper working condition and is also a must. These are just a sample of what you need to consider.
To learn more the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) , offers a lot of really good information regarding safety, as does the Department of Transportation (DOT) .
Tanker Trucks Required Endorsements
I know I’ve beaten the dead horse about tanker truck endorsements. But I can’t stress just how important these really are.
If you are caught hauling anything that would require an endorsement that you don’t have and you get stopped, you will earn a ticket and be fined.
They may seize your load. They may penalize you further; even take your CDL away! The company you work for will receive an unfavorable safety rating. This will then cost you customers. Don’t risk it.
Common endorsements and what it requires:
- H Endorsement: hazardous materials, (written knowledge test)
- N Endorsement: authorizes operating tank vehicles (written knowledge test)
- P Endorsement: transport passengers (written knowledge and skills tests)
- S Endorsement: school bus (written knowledge and skills tests)
- T Endorsement: towing double or triple trailer (written knowledge test)
- X Endorsement: HAZMAT and tank vehicles (written knowledge test)
10. Length Of Time Needed To Stop An Eighteen Wheeler
This is by far the most obvious and most overlooked thing when it comes to a tanker truck. I already said a large heavy object requires more time to stop (think of a large train) than a smaller or lighter one.