Florida may shift chassis responsibility from truckers to port

| 3/25/2003

A bill in Florida would shift the responsibility for container chassis from truckdrivers to the ports that supply the chassis.

HB1371, which was introduced by Rep. Susan Bucher, D-Palm Beach, requires regular inspections of the chassis, and prohibits marine terminal operators from providing a motor carrier with a chassis that fails to pass inspection.

The bill is now before the House Subcommittee on Transportation Systems.

A similar effort is under way at the federal level. 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."