Ryan Streblow, president and CEO of National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) joins this week’s episode of Taking the Hire Road to discuss the state of the tanker trucking segment with host Jeremy Reymer, founder and CEO of DriverReach.
The NTTC is an advocacy and education group focused on the tanker truck segment, a segment that Streblow said represents 6% of all trucks on the road but hauls 30% of all tonnage.
“There is nothing that we focus on without safety being the priority,” Streblow said. “For the association’s carrier fleet members as well as various suppliers, safety is the forethought every single time.”
Streblow said NTTC has pushed strongly since 2018 to obtain a 10% axle variance in its dry bulk segment. He noted that load shifts affect tanker trucks differently than dry bulk trailers — in the event of a hard brake event, for instance.
“A lot of our sector’s carriers will underload their product just so that if the load shifts they’re not over their axle weight. In doing so, that’s adding more vehicles on the road every year because they’re underloading the product,” Streblow said, adding that increased tanker trailers on the road increase the likelihood for additional incidents.
Railroad crossings is another area of concern for NTTC, specifically at highway rail grade crossings. As hazmat haulers are required to stop at crossings, Streblow and his team are looking at what can be done to reduce rear-end collisions with tanker trucks.
“It takes a really skilled professional to be able to do this job,” Streblow said. “A lot of our carriers, if they’re hauling hazardous material and based on their hiring requirements, will look for a professional driver that has a minimum of two years experience. On top of that, they must get a hazmat endorsement, tank endorsement and any other requirements based on the commodities that they’re hauling. These drivers are some of the best out there.”
The volatility of each load requires that the tanker sector’s drivers perform nothing short of exceptionally, meaning not just anyone can get behind the wheel. But Streblow said this niche sector’s driver pool is reaching crisis levels.
A noted culprit is the pandemic, which spurred many drivers to leave the industry altogether, but another issue, he said, was low attendance at driver schools this past year. If no one is willing to haul, especially in the fuel hauler sector, it has implications for nearly every American.
“We’re talking about the number one commodity in the world — petroleum — so we’re going to feel the pinch at the pump a lot quicker than maybe some of these other commodities,” Streblow said.
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