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Truckers object to federal regulatory definition of "tank truck"

A recent federal definition of "tank truck" is overly inclusive, argues the American Trucking Association, a prominent pro-trucking industry group, and the ATA is asking for the definition to be narrowed.

The ATA argues that federal regulations might necessitate special commercial-license endorsements for hundreds of thousands of drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the primary federal agency responsible for national highway safety as it concerns semi-truck and bus traffic. In reaching for that goal, the FMCSA regulates large truck and bus drivers, traffic and equipment in an effort to prevent deadly truck accidents, obviously an important governmental function given the relative size and weight of large commercial vehicles compared to those of cars.

As part of its effort, the FMCSA has adopted a definition of "tank truck" that the ATA says will reach trucking configurations not traditionally thought of as "bulk tank-trailers" for transporting gas or liquid, according to The Journal of Commerce.

For example, the ATA feels the new definition would wrongly include a tractor that pulls a "dry van trailer" carrying a large tank (that holds more than 1,000 gallons) not permanently attached to the hauler. The group feels strongly that only trucks with permanently attached large tanks should fall under the official definition of "tank truck" for regulatory purposes.

Apparently, some trucking companies' business is only to haul a variety of loads for hire, including these temporarily attached tanks, and the drivers for these companies are among those who would have to file for expanded licenses.

The ATA has filed a petition with the FMCSA with its objections to the definition. It will be interesting to see how the agency reacts and whether there was any intention on the part of the government to expand the regulatory reach to include nonpermanent tanks. After all, gas and liquid of a hazardous nature are regularly hauled on our roads.

Source: The Journal of Commerce, "ATA Says 'No Tanks' to Tank Truck Definition," William Cassidy, Feb. 25, 2012

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