**Since this blog post, there has been a change to the regulation. See our newest blog on this topic by clicking here instead.**
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has redefined tank vehicles in their Federal CDL Licensing rules to include other types of equipment you wouldn’t ordinarily think of as a “tanker”. Effective July 8, 2011, any vehicle hauling small tanks or totes of 119 gallons or more that when added together total 1,000 gallons of liquid or gaseous materials or more is now considered a tank vehicle (even if they're a flat or van). In order to haul that load, the driver must have the tank endorsement on his CDL in order to haul it.
Each State has three years to implement this into their standards, but some have already started handing out fines to drivers, such as Louisiana. Even if it’s a van or flatbed, it can still be classified as a tank in this new definition. The delay in implementation in some states could lead to confusion and additional expense for truckers, already facing cost increases from fuel to insurance to equipment. Most truckers view this as an unnecessary burden, and several groups are organizing to protest for change.
How does this affect the shipper? Make certain you provide all load information to your logistics providers so they contract drivers and carriers with the CDL endorsement despite the type of equipment used (van, reefer, flatbed, tank). Two of the nation’s largest LTL carriers have approximately 200,000 drivers that will be affected by this change, not to mention the truckload carriers impacted (reported by the ATA). Beware of what this might mean for the cost creep, as well. More information can be found on the FMCSA website.