This section has information needed to pass the CDL knowledge test for driving a tank vehicle. (You should also study Sections 2, 5, 6, and 9). A tank endorsement is required for certain vehicles that transport liquids or gases. The liquid or gas does not have to be a hazardous material. A tank endorsement is required if your vehicle needs a Class A or B CDL and you want to haul a liquid or liquid gas in a permanently mounted cargo tank rated at greater than 450 liters (119 gallons) or a portable tank rated at greater than 1,000 gallons. A tank endorsement is also required for Class C vehicles when the vehicle is used to transport hazardous materials in liquid or gas form in the above described rated tanks.
Before loading, unloading, or driving a tanker, inspect the vehicle. This makes sure that the vehicle is safe to carry the liquid or gas and is safe to drive
Inspecting Tank Vehicles
Tank vehicles have special items that you need to check. Tank vehicles come in many types and sizes. You need to check the vehicle’s operator manual to make sure you know how to inspect your tank vehicle.
On all tank vehicles, the most important item to check for is leaks. Check under and around the vehicle for signs of any leaking. Don’t carry liquids or gases in a leaking tank. To do so is a crime. You will be cited and prevented from driving further. You may also be liable for the clean up of any spill. In general, check the following:
Check Special Purpose Equipment
If your vehicle has any of the following equipment, make sure it works:
Never drive a tank vehicle with open valves or manhole covers.
Check the emergency equipment required for your vehicle. Find out what equipment you’re required to carry and make sure you have it (and it works).
Driving Tank Vehicles
Hauling liquids in tanks requires special skills because of the high center of gravity and liquid movement. See Figure 8.1.
High Center of Gravity
High center of gravity means that much of the load’s weight is carried high up off the road. This makes the vehicle top-heavy and easy to roll over. Liquid tankers are especially easy to roll over. Tests have shown that tankers can turn over at the speed limits posted for curves. Take highway curves and on ramp/off ramp curves well below the posted speeds.
Danger of Surge
Liquid surge results from movement of the liquid in partially filled tanks. This movement can have bad effects on handling. For example, when coming to a stop, the liquid will surge back and forth. When the wave hits the end of the tank, it tends to push the truck in the direction the wave is moving. If the truck is on a slippery surface such as ice, the wave can shove a stopped truck out into an intersection. The driver of a liquid tanker must be very familiar with the handling of the vehicle.
Some liquid tanks are divided into several smaller tanks by bulkheads. When loading and unloading the smaller tanks, the driver must pay attention to weight distribution. Don’t put too much weight on the front or rear of the vehicle.
Baffled liquid tanks have bulkheads in them with holes that let the liquid flow through. The baffles help to control the forward and backward liquid surge. Side-to-side surge can still occur. This can cause a roll over.
Un-baffled liquid tankers (sometimes called “smooth bore” tanks) have nothing inside to slow down the flow of the liquid. Therefore, forward-and-back surge is very strong. Un-baffled tanks are usually those that transport food products (milk, for example). (Sanitation regulations forbid the use of baffles because of the difficulty in cleaning the inside of the tank.) Be extremely cautious (slow and careful) in driving smooth bore tanks, especially when starting and stopping.
Never load a cargo tank totally full. Liquids expand as they warm and you must leave room for the expanding liquid. This is called “outage.” Since different liquids expand by different amounts, they require different amounts of outage. You must know the outage requirement when hauling liquids in bulk.
How Much to Load?
A full tank of dense liquid (such as some acids) may exceed legal weight limits. For that reason, you may often only partially fill tanks with heavy liquids. The amount of liquid to load into a tank depends on:
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.