U.S. to regulate safety of intermodal chassis
The U.S. Department of Transportation said it would bring inspection levels for intermodal chassis up to the level and frequency used to make sure trucks and trailer rigs are safe to operate over the road.
Intermodal container chassis are used to transport more than $450 billion worth of international cargo each year.
“It is essential that we have a full and complete safety program focused on the trailer beds used to haul cargo containers,” DOT Secretary Norman Mineta said in a statement announcing the new effort.
The new inspection program will be administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is responsible for commercial vehicle safety. Chassis providers will be required to obtain a USDOT number and display it on their chassis. Inspectors who find unsafe equipment during regular compliance reviews can order the chassis out of service until it is fixed.
Intermodal chassis have been inspected whenever they are randomly selected by state police conducting periodic roadside reviews. The new emphasis means chassis will be checked on a more comprehensive, regular basis.
The whole issue of intermodal maintenance is controversial because truckers typically do not own the chassis, but can be ticketed by police for operating unsafe equipment. The trucking industry claims it is the responsibility of railroads and steamship companies who own the majority of intermodal equipment to maintain the equipment. Intermodal operators are trying to develop an industry solution for a regular maintenance evaluation and repairs.
The DOT said it will issue details on how and when it will enforce intermodal safety in the Federal Register sometime during the next few weeks.