On May 9th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted a Petition for Rulemaking, changing their redefined tank vehicle descriptions from July of 2011. The July Federal CDL Licensing rules were changed to include other types of equipment you wouldn’t ordinarily think of as a “tanker”.
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 was considered a tank vehicle, contrary to past definitions. In order to haul a load of that type, the driver needed a tank endorsement on his CDL or face fines.
Each State was given three years to implement this into their standards, but some already started handing out fines to drivers, such as Louisiana. Even if it’s a van or flatbed, it could still be classified as a tank in this new definition. The delay in implementation in some states led to confusion and additional expense for truckers, already facing cost increases from fuel to insurance to equipment. Most truckers viewed this as an unnecessary burden, leading several groups to organize in protest for change. The American Trucking Association (ATA) filed the Petition for Rulemaking granted on May 9, 2012.
How does this affect the driver? Until the FMCSA finalizes the newest ruling, states can still choose to enforce the fine. Industry leaders are asking law enforcement to give warnings as opposed to fines until such time as the concern is eliminated altogether.
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 could 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.
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