Fuel tanker drivers voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over terms and conditions and safety standards bringing the threat of a strike a step closer.
Around 2,000 members of Unite, working for seven different companies, were balloted, with those at five firms backing walkouts.
The union said strikes were backed by an average of 69% in the five firms, who deliver fuel to Esso and Shell garages as well as supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Tesco.
The government said it had "robust resilience and contingency plans" to deal with a strike and had already started to put these in place to minimise any disruption to the public.
One of the firms affected - Hoyer - revealed it had already started training Army personnel to drive fuel tankers if strikes go ahead.
Unite drivers supply fuel to 90% of Britain's forecourts, with the union saying a strike could lead to the closure of thousands of petrol stations.
These votes send a clear message throughout the industry and should prompt all the major companies to get around the table to establish minimum standards.
– Diana Holland, Unite's assistant general secretary
This is not about pay - this is about ensuring that high safety and training standards are maintained, so that our communities are safe."
The union will have to give seven days' notice of walkouts and have not ruled out the prospect of action over Easter weekend.
Our Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg reports that if the strike does go ahead, it could cripple the UK's petrol stations.
Tanker drivers work 12 hour shifts, driving a 44 tonne vehicle, holding between 36,000 and 40,000 litres of petroleum product.
Unite said final pension salary schemes were increasingly being replaced with an inferior money purchase scheme, while jobs were being cut.