FMCSA proposes rules for intermodal roadability

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed regulations that would, for the first time, subject intermodal equipment providers (IEPs) to federal safety regulations governing motor carriers. A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Federal Register.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU, which Congress passed in 2005, mandated a series of steps to ensure that companies or organizations that owned the intermodal container chassis motor carriers used bore responsibility for ensuring that the equipment was maintained properly. Motor carriers had long complained that they were being held accountable for the safety – or roadability – of equipment they didn’t own or control.

As called for in the legislation, FMCSA is proposing to require that IEPs:

  • Register and file with FMCSA an Intermodal Equipment Provider Identification Report (Form MCS-150C);
  • Display the USDOT Number, or other unique identifier, on each intermodal container chassis offered for transportation in interstate commerce;
  • Establish a systematic inspection, repair and maintenance program to ensure the safe operating condition of each intermodal container chassis;
  • Maintain documentation of the program; and
  • Provide a means to effectively respond to driver and motor carrier reports about intermodal container chassis mechanical defects and deficiencies.
  • Rulemaking efforts on intermodal roadability go back nearly eight years. In February 1999, the Federal Highway Administration, which at the time was responsible for commercial motor vehicle safety, issued an advance NPRM on the issue in response to a petition filed by the American Trucking Associations. In November 2002, FMCSA announced that it would try to develop a rule through negotiation among affected parties, but it later determined that a consensus was unlikely. At the end of 2003, the agency withdrew the advance NPRM, saying that it could quantify the costs of regulatory options but that there was insufficient data to quantify the safety benefits.

    In January 2004, the Department of Transportation announced that DOT would launch a safety inspection program for intermodal container chassis modeled after the compliance review program already in place for interstate motor carriers. As part of this effort, FMCSA compiled and analyzed additional intermodal chassis inspection data from 38 states. FMCSA says the information derived from this analysis, particularly violations that caused vehicles to be placed out of service, provided evidence that intermodal equipment failed to meet the FMCSRs more often than non-intermodal equipment.

    Comments on the proposal are due March 21. For a copy of the NPRM, visit and search Docket No. 23315.