Earning your class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) allows you to drive most types of semi-trucks. However, there are some specialized vehicles that require additional certification. Tank trucks are one example of this and require the tanker endorsement, also called the “N” endorsement, to operate.
More information about the tank vehicle endorsement:
Vehicles that Require an “N” Endorsement
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets requirements for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). Under their regulations, a CDL holder needs an “N” endorsement to drive a tank vehicle. As outlined in §383.119 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a tank vehicle:
- Hauls gaseous material or liquid of any kind
- Carries these fluids in one or multiple tanks with individual capacities greater than 119 gallons
- Has a total gas or liquid volume of 1,000 gallons or more
This includes more traditional tanker vehicles (semi-trucks with an attached tank, such as fuel trucks) as well as dry vans that haul fluids and meet the other requirements. However, it does not include intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) or empty tanks.
Do You Need a Hazmat Endorsement?
In many cases, tanker trucks transport hazardous materials (hazmat). If this is the case, you will also need to obtain your hazmat endorsement. This combination is known as an “X” endorsement.
The Tanker Endorsement Knowledge Test
To earn your tanker endorsement, you will need to pass an additional portion of the CDL test. This covers material from section 8 of the CDL manual. You will take this exam at the same time as the standard written test.
The subsections included on the exam are:
Inspecting Tank Vehicles
All commercial vehicles need to be inspected before each haul to help ensure the safety of the driver, freight, and others on the road. There are special requirements to check for tank trucks. These include examining the tank and surroundings for leaks. Transporting liquid or gaseous material in a leaking tank is a crime and a serious safety issue. You will also need to check any special equipment before beginning your haul.
Driving a tank truck is different from driving a standard dry van tractor-trailer. To earn your tanker endorsement, you will need to understand how the high center of gravity of these vehicles and fluid movement can affect driving. You should also understand what baffles and bulkheads are and how they work.
Safe Driving Rules
To safely drive a tanker, you need to be aware of general safety rules as well as those that are specific to transporting fluids. You should know how to control surge and be aware that posted speed limits for curves and ramps may be too fast for a tank.
Earn Your Tanker Endorsement
At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), you can earn endorsements for tanker, hazmat, and doubles/triples.