Day in the life of a fuel tanker driver?

Discussion in 'Hazmat Trucking Forum' started by PhoenixTJ, May 3, 2022.

  1. PhoenixTJ

    PhoenixTJ Bobtail Member

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    I'm wondering what it's like to drive a fuel tanker. Anyway fill me in?
     
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  3. lual

    lual Medium Load Member

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    Your experience will vary, depending on......

    whether you are a day-shift driver vs a night-shift driver (like me), whether you deliver mostly in the city--or in more rural areas (like me), or if you are paid by the load vs paid by the hour (like me).

    Wait times at fuel terminals can indeed be aggravating...depending on what area you are in, and/or the fuel supplier in question. Getting paid by the hour (instead of by the load) partially solves this problem, however.

    I would submit that....it is NOT really the "dance with death" that much of the outside world thinks that it is. Just do things smart, do things safely, and respect your load. Then it's really no more dangerous than say, hauling milk.

    Except for dealing with heavy traffic during the day--I would also submit that it is actually one of the easier jobs available in the trucking industry--once you learn how to do it properly.

    Also--one thing that the rest of the world usually overlooks--pulling an oval-shaped trailer is a BIG ADVANTAGE in windy conditions. :p:D:)

    Fuel tankers can go where most other big rigs simply can't. For example: a street labelled "no thru trucks" is fair game for a fuel tanker, if it has a mom-n-pop convenience/fuel store on it somewhere. Law enforcement simply has to look the other way. :) ;)

    Unlike some other types of freight--your customers are always glad to see you. What you haul is basically the main reason they stay in business, so in a subtle way you're sort of a "hero" every time you show up.

    The big "negative" with this job really is....if you're just starting out....you will more than likely be working nights, weekends and also on holidays.

    It can also be A LOT OF HOURS.

    But doing night-shift duty does have some BIG advantages to it. It's not all bad news.

    The good side of it is....in addition to that above....it is well respected experience....and will open doors for you to pivot to other types of tanker duty, if you should choose to do so, later.

    There will probably always be (for the foreseeable future, anyway) a strong demand for people who are both qualified and willing to do this kind of work--especially for night-shift duty.

    Both hazmat and tanker endorsements are required for fuel duty; also, a TWIC card really makes you more attractive to potential fuel employers, in many cases.

    I would personally recommend AT LEAST 2 years previous CDL-A driving experience, before applying for such a position.

    What else do ya wanna know?

    --Lual
     
  4. 201

    201 Road Train Member

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    high plains colorado
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    Well, I'll tell ya', they don't call them "suicide jockeys" for nothing. I hauled 1 ( one) load of gasoline in my entire career, and I was squeezing the color out of the steering wheel. It clearly wasn't for me. Not the driving so much, you have to be careful no matter what you pull, I just wasn't comfortable with 7800 gallons of gasoline behind me, as opposed to say, a container full of wood. For the most part, fuel hauling is short distances, and usually at night, and until the big spigot in the MIddle East runs dry, you'll have a job until then. Suicide jockeys used to be all old men, with millions of miles under their belt, they were simply the best of the best. They had to be. Today, I'm not so sure who is pulling our gas tankers. I think it's still the best drivers out there, but they are a dying breed. If you don't have grapes that clank, I'd probably stay away from fuel hauling, but there's other things that go in a tanker, and still the best trucking job you can have. Maybe fresh water to the dope growers. Don't laugh, here in Colorado, the grow houses use an incredible amount of water. Hey, personal views aside, it smells like money to those guys.
     
  5. Hawkeye72

    Hawkeye72 Light Load Member

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    Feb 20, 2015
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    What kind of jobs are available for people who have experience hauling fuel? How long does someone need to pull fuel before being able to move up to these jobs?

    Right now i have 3+ years of class A running ltl pulling doubles. But i might be looking for a change of scenery.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  6. lual

    lual Medium Load Member

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    @Hawkeye72, given the current job market for seasoned drivers, if you already have 3+ years of successfully pulling LTL doubles--I would submit to you that you could GO STRAIGHT INTO whatever tanker duty you so desire, pretty much.

    No need to do fuel duty, first--unless that's what you really wanted, anyway.

    I have no track record in the LTL world--and for me, hauling fuel was clearly a GREAT WAY to enter the tanker world.

    Especially HAZMAT tanker.

    Having said all that--hauling fuel would DEFINITELY be one way to give you the "change of scenery" that you might like.

    But......to answer your original question--it's probably easier to suggest for what hauling fuel would NOT be a decent precedent.

    Given the present job market for drivers--you should easily be able to pivot to most anything else in the tanker world after say, 12 months (or more) of successful fuel duty. Less than that would probably work--but 12 months (or more) should help keep you from looking like a job hopper.

    Your biggest problem with fuel duty....that I see....is that you would start off as low man on the totem pole....and be (most likely) running nights, weekends, and also holidays--at least, for a while.

    Living in Iowa--you would be delivering fuel in ice and/or snow part of the year--what that's like is also something else to think about.

    And paid vacation that first year is likely to be pretty skimpy.

    Unfortunately, fuel tanker is much like LTL in that respect--it's a seniority-based world.

    --Lual
     
  7. mustang190

    mustang190 Road Train Member

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    I haul aviation fuels. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.
     
  8. PhoenixTJ

    PhoenixTJ Bobtail Member

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    Sorry for the late reply. Thanks everyone, there's some great info here! The greater manueverability and side profile are very attractive. The idea of working at night bugs me more than the idea of 7800 gallons of fuel tied to my butt. ;)
     
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  9. HiramKingWilliams

    HiramKingWilliams Medium Load Member

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    Step 1) start shift
    Step 2) kick ### and take names
    Step 3) make money
    Step 4) end shift
     
  10. inandoutoftrouble

    inandoutoftrouble Road Train Member

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    My guess is that you have a family to go home to at night time.

    God bless every American and their families! God bless the U.S.A.!

    The absolute sheer driving force of our national economy - without truck drivers, our entire national economy would come to an absolute standstill - if not outright be dead.
    [​IMG]
    Over the mountains, through the woods, into the valleys, coast to coast, from sea to shining sea - truck drivers can and do go anywhere and everywhere, every day, every night, all year round.
     
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  11. PhoenixTJ

    PhoenixTJ Bobtail Member

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    Aug 13, 2020
    Utah
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    YES!!!!
     
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