If you stand on River Street in Savannah for more than a few minutes, you will see a huge ocean-going container ship gliding up the Savannah River, stacked high with hundreds of freight containers.
Then if you drive along our Interstate highways you will see those shipping containers bolted to trailer chassis (referred to as “intermodal equipment”), pulled by road tractors.
A problem is recent years was a gap in safety rules and enforcement regarding the trailers to which the freight containers were attached at the ports. Many of the trailer chassis are old, ragged-out trailer chassis with just a fresh coat of paint.
Now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is doing something about it. Under the new rules, which became effective June 17th and will be implemented over the next two years:
– Drivers must do a pre-trip inspection of intermodal equipment.
– At the end of the day, the driver will have to fill out an inspection report on all of the equipment operated during the day, noting anything wrong with the equipment to the intermodal equipment provider.
– Before that equipment – which will have to carry a U.S. DOT number – can be offered for use on the road again, any damage, defect, etc., noted on the end-of-the-day report is to be certified as repaired on the original report.
– Inspection reports must be retained three months.
– Intermodal equipment providers to develop “systems” for routinely inspecting the equipment; accepting, addressing and storing the driver reports; repairing equipment, etc. However, the rule does not mandate what those systems are.
– Intermodal equipment providers will also now face “roadability review” safety audits conducted by either an FMCSA employee or a state or local government employee funded by the federal government. The reviews will be an on-site examination of the intermodal equipment provider’s compliance with the regs.
Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Treasurer of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.