Texas seeks intermodal chassis inspection requirement

| 3/14/2005

A Texas state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would shift the responsibility for container chassis from truck drivers to the ports that supply the chassis.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, would require marine terminals in Texas that load and unload oceangoing vessels to check every intermodal chassis, the trailers that carry intermodal freight containers, before they leave a port.

Talton’s effort calls for inspections that would check such items as brakes, suspension, tires and wheels, connecting devices, lights and electrical system.

The measure would allow a driver to request that a chassis be reinspected by the Department of Transportation if he or she thinks it’s unsafe. Port employees, inspectors, owners or lessees of intermodal chassis would be prohibited from threatening, coercing or otherwise retaliating against a driver of a chassis who requested reinspection or repair.

It also would prohibit terminals from passing the buck for repairs on to drivers.

Any chassis provider found in violation would be subject to a $500 fine per occurrence. If a provider is found to have at least two prior convictions for violations, the provider would face a $1,000 fine.

A similar effort in the state House failed to pass from committee during the 2003 session.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents 11,500 Texas-based professional drivers, is hopeful the renewed effort has greater success this time around.

“Poorly maintained container chassis have long been a major problem for container haulers,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “It serves no worthwhile safety purpose to place penalties on drivers for poorly maintained container chassis. Drivers don’t even lay eyes on this equipment until long after they are dispatched and in the container yard to load.”

HB1989 is awaiting assignment to a committee.