Dry freight drivers may need tank truck endorsement

Some dry freight drivers may be discovering that they are considered tank truck drivers by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This means they could be cited during roadside inspections if they don’t have a tank truck endorsement with their commercial driver license.

Affected drivers work with truck fleets that transport intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) in van trailers or on flatbeds. FMCSA’s requirement for a tank truck endorsement took effect in July 2011, and got very little attention at the time. States have until July 2014 to adopt the new definition.

The FMCSA definition states the following: Tank vehicle means any commercial motor vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous material within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis. A commercial vehicle transporting an empty storage container tank, not designed for transportation, with a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is temporarily attached to a flatbed trailer is not considered a tank vehicle.

When asked for clarification on the requirement, an FMCSA official said: “Based on the opinion of our Chief Counsel’s office, I can tell you that we do consider that an IBC that is strapped, chained, or otherwise secured to a vehicle in compliance with our cargo securement rules is considered to be temporarily attached to the vehicle. So, if the aggregate capacities of the IBCs on a truck is greater than 1,000 gallons, it would meet our definition of a tank vehicle and the driver would be required to have the tank endorsement on the CDL.”

Several organizations, including the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, have stressed that this rule change could have a significant impact on a substantial number of shippers and carriers. They have asked FMCSA to modify the definition and provide a formal interpretation that IBCs are not covered.

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