FMCSA extends comment period on chassis maintenance issue

| 3/21/2003

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended until April 10, 2003, the comment period on the issue of who bears the responsibility for inspecting, maintaining and repairing intermodal container chassis and trailers (Docket Number 98-3635).

In its Jan. 13, 2003, comment to the FMCSA, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it would like to take part in a negotiated rulemaking to resolve the issue.

"The vast majority of truckdrivers working out of the sea ports are owner-operators who own their own tractors and are asked to hook up to and haul container chassis and trailers that belong to the water carriers," OOIDA President Jim Johnston said.

"Intermodal equipment sits entirely outside of the owner-operator’s control until the moment they are assigned a piece of equipment and dispatched. The income lost, penalties incurred and time wasted by owner-operators forced to deal with poorly maintained equipment have a serious impact on their ability to make a living."

Terrorism an added concern
FMCSA first requested comments on this issue in 1999. However, since September 11, 2001, new concerns have become evident, OOIDA said.

"The first is the homeland security concern for the origin, content and custody of shipping containers," Johnston said. "The other is the proposed limited access of transportation workers to secure areas of the ports.

“The addition of these issues gives greater importance to FMCSA’s efforts. Once responsibility for the maintenance of intermodal equipment is clearly established, the agency should have greater confidence that such equipment will be better maintained."