FMCSA official: truckers must report chassis issues

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 8/11/2009

A new federal rule aims to hold intermodal equipment providers accountable for the safety and repair of container chassis, but the rule will only be effective if drivers picking up loads at ports hold the equipment providers’ feet to the fire.

That was the message many port truckers heard Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Owner Operators Coalition of Virginia meeting last weekend at Hampton Roads, VA.

OOCVA and OOIDA arranged an address by Jack Van Steenburg, director of the FMCSA Office of Enforcement and Compliance, to discuss the latest federal rule governing intermodal equipment providers, which was issued in December 2008 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and which took effect June 17 of this year.

The rule requires intermodal equipment providers to “establish a systematic inspection, repair, and maintenance program to assure the safe operating condition of each intermodal chassis,” provide documentation of their maintenance program, and to provide means “to effectively respond to driver and motor carrier reports about intermodal chassis mechanical defects and deficiencies.”

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist, attended the meeting.

Rajkovacz said truckers were told the rule wouldn’t be effective unless they documented and reported chassis that were in poor repair to FMCSA.

“FMCSA said this has to be a cooperative effort amongst all of the participants – from the intermodal equipment providers to the motor carriers and the drivers,” Rajkovacz said. “The drivers have a responsibility to drop a dime on the IEPs who are not tendering them roadable chassis. There is a hot line number and they are going to have to call it – not with anecdotal complaints, and not after the fact.

“The only thing that is going to make FMCSA jump is essentially a paper trail with non-frivolous complaints.”

Truckers at the meeting also heard from R.C. Powell of the Virginia State Police, who is active with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Powell said state police are collecting data to measure the effectiveness of the federal chassis rule to determine whether out-of-service rates drop.

Rajkovacz said OOCVA meetings have steadily increased in attendance, and Saturday’s meeting was no exception.

“It was a really, really good meeting,” Rajkovacz said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer


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