Feds looking to clarify tanker definition, endorsements

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Updated Apr 18, 2012

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says its beginning rulemaking again on what constitutes a tank vehicle after its May 2011 rule expanded the definition beyond the agency’s intent.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro told the American Trucking Associations March 30 the agency had granted the association’s request to revisit the rule. “Further consideration should be given to which tanks, vehicles and combinations of tanks should require a tank endorsement on a CDL for operation,” she wrote.

The May 2011 rule included redefining a tank vehicle, although the rule’s main purpose was updating the processes for applying for and issuing CDLs and commercial learner’s permits. The new definition includes dry van trailers hauling empty or filled cylinders and intermediate bulk containers designed for carrying liquids and gases.

“The agency never intended that the transportation of tanks as cargo should require a tank vehicle endorsement,” Ferro stated.

As is, the rule expands the number of vehicles requiring drivers with tank endorsements on their CDLs, increasing costs for drivers and the carriers who hire them. “As this definition continues to be a source of questions and confusion, the agency believes a more detailed definition may improve understanding and enforcement,” Ferro wrote.

The ATA’s Feb. 22 petition stated that the FMCSA’s Regulatory Evaluation, Regulatory Flexibility Analysis and Unfunded Mandates Reform Act Analysis did not mention the costs of redefining tank vehicles.

The effective date for the rule was July 8, but states have up to three years to incorporate a FMCSA regulation change into code. “A driver may test and follow the regulations in his/her state of domicile—that is not yet enforcing this change—only to be unwittingly cited by another state for failing to hold the proper endorsement.”

Ferro stated the agency would begin a notice-and-comment rulemaking to gain public feedback, but did not indicate a timeline for this process.

The Owner-Operator and Independent Driver Association also supports revisiting the rule.

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