The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering the rare but not unprecedented alternative of drafting new rules for maintenance of intermodal container chassis and trailers through negotiation rather than the normal process. On Nov. 29, the agency announced it is considering negotiated rulemaking that could include driver organizations, motor carriers, ocean carriers, rail carriers, port authorities, chassis owners, safety advocacy groups, enforcement officials and insurers.
Almost four years ago, FMCSA invited comments on the issue of intermodal chassis and containers and held several public meetings. At issue is whether the responsibility for maintenance of these vehicles lies with the vehicle owner or with the motor carrier that uses it.
Federal agencies sometimes use negotiated rulemakings when the normal notice-and-comment process predictably will lead to some parties strongly favoring one approach and others strongly opposing that approach. FMCSA has hired a convenor to talk to all parties about the likely success of a negotiated rulemaking in this situation. The person hired is the same person who acted as convenor several years ago on whether negotiated rulemaking could work for hours-of-service changes. He concluded that it would not.
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