Got tanker? FMCSA new definition could require new endorsement

If you don’t have a tanker endorsement already, you might consider obtaining one. Besides being handy for business, it could help you avoid penalties if you haul certain types of fluid bins. Why now? Some states may already be enforcing an expanded definition of “tank vehicle” that now applies to vehicles hauling an aggregate of 1,000 gallons in containers of 119 gallons or larger.

It’s quite possible that you run in a state, or will soon run in one, that has adopted or will soon adopt the change in federal regs pertaining to tankers. That means law enforcement could be waiting to check your credentials for the endorsement.

Under a notice of guidance published Thursday, May 24, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says individual states must adopt the definitional change by 2014 at the latest.

The change originated in May 2011 when the FMCSA issued a final rule for CDL testing and learner’s permits. In that rule, the agency expanded the definition of tank vehicles to include haulers of 1,000 gallons aggregate in containers of 119 gallons or more.

In the guidance document issued this week, the agency says it absolutely intended to expand the definition of “tank vehicle” to flatbedders hauling intermediate bulk containers, or IBCs. That had been a point of contention for some because truckers hauling IBCs containing certain liquids or gaseous materials have not previously needed the tanker endorsement. Hazardous materials are covered under different rules.

The American Trucking Associations petitioned the agency earlier this year to change the definition back to the way it was prior to the CDL-testing rule. And while the FMCSA did grant the petition, the agency did so to study the matter further and to clarify its intentions through official guidance. The guidance states:

“The new definition is intended to cover (1) a vehicle transporting an IBC or other tank used for any liquid or gaseous materials, with an individual rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or chassis; or (2) a vehicle used to transport multiple IBCs or other tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that are permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis.”

The agency has also clarified its intentions for empty bins and those with residue only.

“Furthermore, the definition of tank vehicle does not cover the transportation of empty storage tanks that are not designed for transportation and have a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more, that are temporarily attached to a flatbed vehicle,” the FMCSA stated.