Tank Vehicle Definition Under Scrutiny

In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration amended the definition of “tank vehicle” in a way that affects CDL holders, requiring drivers of qualifying vehicles to obtain a tank truck endorsement.

The new definition, from 76 Federal Register 26854 (May 9, 0211) is as follows:

Tank vehicle means any commercial motor vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis. A commercial motor vehicle transporting an empty storage container tank, not designed for transportation, with a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is temporarily attached to a flatbed trailer is not considered a tank vehicle.

In his summary of the rule, GAWDA’s Government Affairs & Human Resources Legal Consultant Richard P. Schweitzer, Esq., says, “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. Putting four of those in the trailer of any CMV exceeds the aggregate 1,000 gallon capacity. This endorsement would be required regardless of whether the product transported is regulated as hazardous material or not.”

The American Trucking Associations openly opposed the new definition and petitioned the FMCSA to change the definition in a letter to agency Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Obtaining this endorsement is burdensome, requiring additional training, time off work and substantial costs and fees,” ATA writes in the letter. “Under the new definition, drivers who do not operate vehicles commonly considered tank trucks must pass the same knowledge test to acquire a special tank truck endorsement on his or her commercial driver’s license as a traditional tank truck operator.”

ATA goes on to say that the rule includes vehicles that are “manifestly not tank vehicles,” including intermediate bulk containers designed for liquids and gases and dry van trailers hauling empty or filled cylinders. The organization proposes a definition that would only include trucks carrying containers with a rated capacity of at least 1,000 gallons, as well as trucks that have permanently mounted bulk containers of aggregate capacity greater than 1,000 gallons.

Although states have until July 2014 to adopt the new definition, some have already begun enforcing the amended rule. This is the case in Louisiana, where the state has begun citing drivers, and will levy fines beginning in March.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association