Been thinking about....a big fireball

Published January 17, 2024

By Joe Mavretic

A eight thousand gallon gasoline tanker could be a big fireball. At about six pounds per gallon, I don’t know how big an explosion of 48,000 pounds of 87 octane gasoline would be but it surely would be spectacular. 

I’ve been thinking about that kind of fireball since I watched some fool trying to beat a tanker at a stop-light intersection. Fortunately, the tanker driver had anticipated such an encounter and avoided a collision. I suspect that the driver had been in that same situation many times.

 That event has stuck in my mind and now, every time I see a gasoline tanker, I think about how fortunate we all are that those drivers are professionals. They are not the only professionals in the petroleum pipeline but they are the ones that now come to the head of my line when I pull up to a pump. It goes like this…..

Twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year, gasoline tanker drivers get up after a good nights sleep, come to work sober and alert, fill their tankers with that days’ deliveries and start off on the route. Every mile is monitored and their speed is governed. Color-coded tanks are properly filled at all kinds of stations and stores, and the tanker is safely returned to the terminal for another load. 

There are all manner of statistics concerning "Average Gasoline Use in America" but I like to think about it this way: Most drivers fill-up with about ten gallons of gasoline once a week. This means that a tanker driver hauls enough gas to fill about 800 cars. If most Americans are two car families, with just one delivery a tanker driver keeps 400 families on the road, for a week, buying groceries, going to work and church, hauling kids, or, just traveling.

Meanwhile, I check the fuel gage in my car and, at one quarter empty, decide to fill-up. When I roll-up to the pump I expect the gas to be there, in the amount I need at the time, and at a price I can pay. I fill up the tank and drive off to do my chores. For me, the most important person in my transaction was the gasoline tanker driver. The entire industry depended upon that driver safely delivering my 10 gallons of 87 octane Regular gasoline to that station.

I know that at every step in the pipeline, from drilling for crude oil, refining it, moving product to terminals then delivering, there are important people but, for me, the key is the person who safely put my gasoline at the pump.

The next time you pass a tanker truck, give a nod to that safe driver who keeps you moving…and never, ever, try to beat him at a stoplight.