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New Tanker Truck Definition Draws Criticism

Tanker Truck Regulations QuestionedAs reported in a recent issue of the GAWDA Connection e-newsletter, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed the definition of tank vehicle in a way that impacts many drivers. The change outlines volumes for trucks transporting liquid or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks. At or above these volumes, drivers need a special tank vehicle endorsement on their CDL.

The summary states: “This new definition will require a tanker endorsement on the CDL of any driver operating a CMV that would be transporting four or more intermediate bulk containers, since those typically contain anywhere from 250 gallons to 330 gallons of liquid per IBC.”

The article also explained that the American Trucking Associations was preparing a petition to amend the rule, which would be supported by GAWDA and other associations. This past week, ATA released that petition in the form of a letter to FMCSA, which called the definition “burdensome” and described it as broad and including vehicles that are “manifestly not tank vehicles.”

Along with these issues, a loose enforcement timeline creates confusion for drivers and companies operating in multiple states. The rule was enforceable as of July 2011, but states have until July 2014 to comply. ATA Safety and Security Policy Manager Boyd Stephenson told The Trucker, “States have the option of starting to enforce the rule on the effective date, others wait longer. So you might wind up with Montana beginning to enforce the rule immediately and Idaho choosing to wait three years.” Particularly for distributors doing business in multiple states, this could create some confusion and/or additional expense.

Another question is why it has taken so long for this definition change to draw attention. The notice was published in the Federal Register way back in May 2011 as part of a larger final rule revising the CDL testing and learner’s permit standards. With states able to enforce the rule as early as July 2011, should FMCSA made the change more transparent and/or deliberate?

How do you feel about the new definition change? Do you agree that it is too broad and burdensome?

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