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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #16-0061 ([XPO Logistics] [Mr. Jeff Messe])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: XPO Logistics

Individual Name: Mr. Jeff Messe

Location State: MO Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

August 18, 2016

Mr. Jeff Messer
XPO Logistics
4701 East 32nd Street
Joplin, MO  64804

Reference No. 16-0061

Dear Mr. Messer:

This letter is in response to your April 11, 2016, email and subsequent telephone conversation requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to a scenario where the offeror loads the transport vehicle.  Specifically, you state that you are an over-the-road commercial carrier that transports trailers loaded by the offeror, and you provide photographs of a scenario showing the loaded trailer in the condition in which it was offered to the driver.  The driver did not participate in the loading but did provide a general inspection of the open trailer, verifying that the cargo visible at the tail of the trailer was properly secured, as shown in the enclosed photographs.  During the course of transportation, the carrier was stopped by a State enforcement agent and the trailer was inspected, whereupon the agent determined the interior cargo—which was not visible or assessable from the end of the trailer—was not secured.  You are requesting an interpretation to determine if you are correct in your understanding that the driver exercised reasonable care and that the enforcement citation should go to the offeror.

It is the opinion of this Office that, barring additional information pertinent to the scenario you describe, the shipper performed and was responsible for the loading and package securement requirements of § 177.834(a).  Regarding carrier responsibility, as specified in            § 171.2(f), no person may transport hazmat unless it is transported in accordance with the HMR.  The carrier may rely on information provided by the offeror (the shipper) of the hazmat unless the carrier—or a reasonable person acting in the circumstances and exercising reasonable care—has knowledge that the information provided by the offeror is incorrect.  See § 171.8 for the HMR definition of “person who offers” or “offeror.”  Note that, in general, whenever hazmat has not been shipped in compliance with the HMR, the Department of Transportation will attempt to identify and bring an enforcement proceeding against the person who first caused the transportation of the noncomplying shipment.  See the formal interpretation of carrier responsibility when accepting hazmat for transportation in commerce (June 4, 1998; 63 FR 30411).

In the absence of participating in the loading operation or having access to the full interior of the loaded trailer, it is assumed that the carrier would be relying on the shipping paper and the accompanying certification that the packages are in proper condition for transportation (i.e., properly secured).  Unless the carrier had actual or constructive knowledge, beyond the information available in the photographs, that the interior packages were not properly secured, we see no reason for the driver to have refused this shipment.  

I hope this information is helpful.  Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standard and Rulemaking Division

177.834(a), 171.2(f), 171.8

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.2 General requirements
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
177.834 General requirements