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What Is a Tanker Truck Driver?

A tanker truck driver is responsible for transporting large shipments of liquids or gases.
A tanker truck driver may travel to gas stations to refill reservoirs.
Tanker truck drivers often need special licensing to transport hazardous materials.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2014
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A tanker truck driver transports large shipments of liquids or gases within cities and across long distances. Tanker trucks are unique trailers that feature reinforced metal tanks, specially designed to carry delicate substances and chemicals. Drivers might bring tanks of fuel to gas stations, ship large amounts of milk to manufacturers, or remove sewage from septic tanks. In order to ensure the safe operation of large tanker trucks, a new driver is typically required to hold a commercial driver's license (CDL). In addition, a tanker truck driver who transports oil, gasoline, or industrial chemicals must pass hazardous materials training before working alone.

A driver might work for a trucking company, a municipal government, or a wholesale distributor that prepares agricultural or fuel products. Some tanker truck drivers buy their own specialty vehicles and operate their own contracting businesses. It is common for a driver who delivers fuel or commodities to spend many hours on the road, either making several stops around a city or driving long distances between rural destinations.

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An oil or fuel tanker truck driver visits gas stations, truck stops, and industrial sites to refill reservoirs. He or she is usually responsible for hooking up hoses and dispensing fuel safely. Individuals who deliver food products or water generally make stops at commercial packaging or distributing plants, where other employees help them empty their trucks into specially designed tanks or reservoirs. There is a large emphasis placed on safety and sanitation for both oil and food product tanker truck services, and delivery procedures are often required to be carefully documented.

Drivers who work for government organizations perform public services, such as removal of waste from septic tanks. Such professionals carefully extract material using hoses and pumps that are often built into the tankers. According to local sanitation codes, drivers bring waste to a designated treatment facility and empty their trucks. It is common for the driver to utilize an assistant to help with navigation and maneuvering and connecting pumps.

An individual who wants to become a tanker truck driver in most countries is required to obtain a CDL by attending an accredited driver's training program and passing written and practical driving tests. Drivers who haul radioactive or otherwise harmful substances must receive specialized hazardous materials training as well, which is usually completed on-the-job in the first few weeks of employment at a trucking company. A tanker truck driver who delivers fuel is generally required to pass additional safety training that covers proper dispensing procedures.

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blackfly
Post 6

@Orangey03: Yes, tankers have the same issues. Again, leave lots of room both behind and in front. And you're right: it is a good thing we need lots of training. Unfortunately, anyone can drive a car and that scares us, because no professional driver wants anyone to get hurt or killed.

If your exit is coming up, don't pass trucks or motorcycles. Stay back and wait the extra few seconds it will cost you. It could save a life, and please don't use a phone while driving.

blackfly
Post 5

I would like to answer the questions about passing trucks, I am a class A driver (tractor-trailers).

@cloudel: "Unless you are close enough to the truck to see the driver's reflection, he won't know that you are there" That is exactly the opposite of what the sign means: you are hidden from view when you are close to the truck, and should never pass a truck from close behind. Always stay far back from a truck, signal, change lanes completely and then pass at a reasonable speed. And *never* cut in front of a tractor trailer; wait until you are far ahead before coming back into their lane, because we can't stop in time if you have to break. At 60 mph, a vehicle travels 88 feet per second, so that means if you're 176 feet in front of a truck, it's only *two seconds* behind you.

Also, you should keep the same large distances from motorcycles because they need space behind them to brake safely and space in front of them to see the road surface they're riding on. Getting too close is probably the single most dangerous thing drivers do on the road, equal to texting or talking on the phone. Please drive safely.

lighth0se33
Post 4

I can't imagine driving a tanker truck that hauls sewage around. I would vomit just from the smell.

A guy who lives on my street has this job. I got sick just hearing him talk about what he does.

He has to hook up hoses and pumps and suck out the human waste. He says that the smell is horrible, but what is worse is when a hose gets a crack in it or looses suction unexpectedly.

He has been covered in sewage from hose malfunctions before. He says that he doesn't mind the driving part; it's the extraction and delivery that bothers him.

wavy58
Post 3

It seems kind of gross to me that milk is hauled inside a big truck. I always assumed it was bottled at a dairy farm and then shipped in bottles to be packaged at a factory. I hate to think of all that milk swooshing around loose inside a huge tanker.

I suppose there are regulations and steps taken to make sure it is sterile in there. Still, I remember the first time I passed a milk tanker truck. The driver must have seen the repulsed look on my face, because I saw him laughing.

I'm sure that milk tanker truck drivers have to make sure that their tankers are kept clean and sanitized. I just cannot separate tanker trucks and gasoline in my mind. I know that no single tanker would haul both at any point, but it is just something that bothers me.

cloudel
Post 2

@orangey03 – Those signs scare me as well. What they actually say is, “If you can't see me in my rearview mirror, I can't see you.” So, unless you are close enough to the truck to see the driver's reflection, he won't know that you are there.

However, I don't recall ever seeing one of these signs on a tanker truck. It might be that since their vehicles are a bit more slender than your typical big truck, they could be able to see better.

However, I wouldn't risk making this assumption. I always pass tanker trucks as quickly as possible, and if the driver puts on his left turn signal while I'm passing, I honk and speed up.

orangey03
Post 1

I always get nervous when I pass a tanker truck on the highway, especially if it is carrying fuel. I wonder if the driver can see me, since his truck is so long.

You know those eighteen-wheeler trucks that have the sign on the back warning that he may not be able to see you if you are in a certain position? Do tanker trucks have this same problem, or is that mostly with wider trucks?

I'm glad that they have to go through so much training to be able to drive one of these things. I just hope that they can see approaching vehicles, because I have to pass a lot of these on my way to work.

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