No-Defects Filing for Intermodal Equipment to End

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's change means that drivers returning cargo containers to the equipment provider won't have to file a written report if they found no defects in that equipment.

A simple rule change, at least in the context of federal rulemaking, will eliminate the requirement that drivers must file a written report when they return cargo containers to the equipment provider, even if they found nothing wrong with the equipment. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a proposal to change that so a written report won't be required if the driver found no defects.

The requirement dates to 2006; the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association and the Institute of International Container jointly petitioned for this change in March 2010. They said 96 percent of all submitted reports would show no defects, and the estimated 38,491,440 no-defect reports per year might overwhelm 1,603,810 reports with defects -- along with costing about $770,000 to retrieve U.S. DOT numbers for the equipment that has no defects. Assuming truck drivers take three minutes to fill out each report, they also estimated drivers lose 1,924,572 hours annually completing reports of no defects. (Their numbers were based on a sampling of industry data from 2007-2009.)

FMCSA granted the petition on July 30, 2010; the compliance date for the final rule was extended to June 30, 2011.

FMCSA's change will put this provision into place:

"Sec. 396.12, Procedures for intermodal equipment providers to accept reports required by Sec. 390.42 (b) of this chapter.

  • (b)(4) All damage, defects, or deficiencies of the intermodal equipment must be reported to the equipment provider by the motor carrier or its driver. If no defect or deficiency in the intermodal equipment is discovered by or reported to the driver, no written report is required."

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