Trucker Tools recently spent some time getting to know Gabrielle Simmons, a bulk hazmat owner operator based out of Colorado. We spoke to Gabrielle to learn more about what her first two years as a trucker have been like and how she got involved with the SHE Trucking Sisterhood, an online community of over 8,000 professional women truck drivers. During our conversation, Gabrielle talked about why she got into trucking in the first place and how she saves time (and money) with Trucker Tools’ free driver app. 

We also spoke to Gabrielle about her transition from running dry van to becoming a bulk hazmat owner operator for Dana Transport, which we share below. But first, some basic information on hazmat trucking.

Hazmat Trucking Basics

Hazmat truckers transport hazardous materials, encompassing everything from flammable gases, pollutants and chemicals to corrosives and hazardous waste. Industries that require bulk hazmat transportation include oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, government and military, and fire and rescue. 

Hazmat trucking jobs often pay more than other types of trucking jobs because they require special safety practices and skills, and because hazmat trucking requires close proximity to dangerous materials. Many, but not all, trucking companies require two to three years of accident-free experience for hazmat trucking new hires.

Hazmat trucking jobs often pay more than other types of trucking jobs because they require special safety practices and skills, and because hazmat trucking requires close proximity to dangerous materials. Many, but not all, trucking companies require two to three years of accident-free experience for hazmat trucking new hires.

As a hazmat trucker, safety is the top priority. Hazmat drivers have to adjust their routes based on the material they’re hauling, road conditions, traffic and time. You must keep meticulous records and follow specific safety protocols during loading and unloading, as well. 

How Bulk Hazmat Trucking Differs from Dry Van

“As a tanker, I think you take your job more seriously,” Gabrielle said. “As a dry van trucker, it’s fairly simple. You have your trailer. You get your stuff. You drive from point A to B and you know what to expect when it comes to your brake working. As a tanker, it’s so much different because there’s a lot of added risk. You have to be extra, extra, extra cautious and thorough when it comes to pre-trips, route planning, post-trips and braking.” 

As a dry van trucker, it’s fairly simple. You have your trailer. You get your stuff. You drive from point A to B and you know what to expect when it comes to your brake working. As a tanker, it’s so much different because there’s a lot of added risk. You have to be extra, extra, extra cautious and thorough when it comes to pre-trips, route planning, post-trips and braking.

Gabrielle also shared that when you’re driving a hazmat tanker, how you brake depends on the weight of the load and how much the liquid is moving. Extra caution is required. 

“You can really make a mistake if you don’t take it seriously,” said Gabrielle. “Sometimes your brakes aren’t going to work the way you want them to and it’s because of that liquid movement. It’ll push you, no matter how much you brake.”

Becoming a Hazmat Trucker

Many hazmat trucking companies require a high school diploma/GED and an extremely clean driving record to haul hazardous materials. You also must have an active Class A CDL and obtain a Hazmat Endorsement. Hazmat endorsement requires that you’re at least 21 years old, pass a Hazmat knowledge test and complete medical and eye exams. There are two types of Hazmat endorsements: H for transporting hazardous materials and X for transporting hazardous material in a tanker. 

“I had to go through a three week special training with Dana Transport to become a bulk hazmat tanker driver,” Gabrielle told us.

You also must agree to an extensive background check through the Office of Homeland Security/Transportation Security Administration’s Hazardous Material Endorsement Threat Assessment Program. This risk assessment checks your criminal record, legal status and other relevant personal details. 

To learn more about Gabrielle, follow her on Instagram.

For the rest of our interview with Gabrielle, read Life on the Road with New Owner Operator Gabrielle Simmons. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/