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ATA petitions FMCSA for change in definition of tank truck

The ATA’s petition asks the FMCSA to adopt a definition of tank truck that would include only trucks carrying containers with a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more and trucks with permanently mounted bulk containers that have an aggregate capacity of over 1,000 gallons. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

2/23/2012

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations Wednesday petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to change the agency’s definition of a tank vehicle.

The FMCSA last year altered its definition of a tank vehicle to any load containing bulk tanks — those greater than 119 gallons — that had an aggregate capacity of more than 1,000 gallons.

The ATA noted the change expanded the definition of a tank vehicle and captured many loads that are patently not tank trucks.

The change also forces drivers of those loads to hold tank truck endorsements on their CDLs, the ATA said.

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“Although this regulation affects a large number of private fleets, it is the less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers — often those with the largest fleets — that are especially hard hit by this change because these motor carriers do not know in advance what types of containers will be moving on shipments between their terminals,” Dave Osiecki, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs, wrote in the petition letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “Obtaining this endorsement is burdensome, requiring additional training, time off work and substantial costs and fees. 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. As might be expected, the training for and content of the knowledge test focus on cargo transportation in actual tanks rather than the movement of cylinders and IBCs.”

The new rule had an effective date of July 8, 2011.

But this rule impacts the rules by which states issue CDLs and states have three years from the effective date to start enforcing the rule.

“Therein lies part of the problem,” Boyd Stephenson, manager of safety and security policy at ATA said. “States have the option of starting to enforce the rule on the effective date, others wait longer. So you might wind up with Montana beginning to enforce the rule immediately and Idaho choosing to wait three years.”

If that happens, a carrier and driver could be incompliance in one state and not the other, he said.

 The ATA’s petition asks the FMCSA to adopt a definition of tank truck that would include only trucks carrying containers with a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more and trucks with permanently mounted bulk containers that have an aggregate capacity of over 1,000 gallons.

Under ATA’s suggested definition, any combination of portable containers with a rated capacity of less than 1,000 gallons would not constitute tank vehicles and neither would any containers with a rated capacity of less than 1,000 gallons manifested as empty or residue.

“Other organizations have agreed to file supporting petitions and we are optimistic FMCSA will open a rulemaking to consider the petition,” the ATA said in a newsletter to members.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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