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Roadability Rollout Hits Snags Nationwide
Thursday, 17 December 2009 00:00
Truckers 'very disappointed‘ at implementation of FMCSA rules.

Thursday's implementation of the government's roadability regulations for intermodal equipment is causing headaches for motor carriers and equipment providers at marine and rail terminals across the country.

"We are very disappointed at the rolling out of this program," said Curtis Whalen, executive director of the American Trucking Associations' intermodal conference.

Drayage operators that call at marine terminals and intermodal rail yards are reporting delays in the interchange of chassis. Truck lines were forming at coastal facility gates and at inland locations, Whalen said. "There's a great deal of confusion," he said.

Intermodal equipment providers can not claim that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's roadability regulations were dropped on them unexpectedly. The trucking industry has been lobbying for 10 years now for a clear demarcation of responsibilities for shipping lines, terminal operators and motor carriers in ensuring that intermodal chassis and domestic trailers are in good operating condition when the equipment interchange takes place.

The government agency announced months ago that the roadability regulations would take effect on Dec. 17. Industry workshops were held across the country.

The problem, according to Whalen, is that the information systems required for transmitting reports and other data among truckers and equipment providers are not communicating properly and consistently with each other. Intermodal facilities and providers have varying systems, he noted.

Under the new regulations, the equipment provider, which is usually a shipping line or railroad, is supposed to have in place by now a systematic program to inspect and repair chassis. Therefore, when a trucker arrives at a marine terminal or intermodal rail yard, the facility operator should be tendering only pre-examined, defect-free equipment to the trucker.

Truckers under the regulations must perform a driver's inspection report which the driver or the motor carrier's dispatcher must file with the equipment provider. Confusion is resulting because the actual owner of the equipment may not be readily known or the systems for transmitting and receiving reports are not communicating, Whalen said.

The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, which represents the shipping lines that provide intermodal equipment to truckers, anticipated that confusion would result and therefore had already petitioned FMCSA for a six-month delay in implementation of the roadability regulations, said Jeff Lawrence, OCEMA's general counsel. Lawrence said he expects an FMCSA response shortly. The agency did not immediately return a phone call.

OCEMA is prepared in the coming months to develop an electronic reporting system and provide it to intermodal truckers free of charge, Lawrence said.

Journal of Commerce Online, 12/17/2009