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
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.
Independent Drivers Association, which represents 11,500 Texas-based
professional drivers, is hopeful the renewed effort has greater success this
“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
HB1989 is awaiting
assignment to a committee.