Container hauliers may soon find themselves being brought to book less frequently for being inadvertently overloaded, following a new EC proposal to tighten up on the declared weights on shipping containers.

The new proposal, put forward for inclusion in the EC’s directive (96/53) on vehicle weights and dimensions, seeks to force cargo-owners to be more accurate in declaring the weight of their containers. It also gives them greater responsibility where containers are found to be either under- or overweight – both of which can be a problem on cargo vessels where they are stacked up to ten-high.

The EC proposal has been warmly welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which told it fitted in with separate moves globally by the International Maritime Organization over the last two years to give shippers greater responsibility on this issue.

Chris Welsh, FTA director of global and European policy, said the move was “good news for everyone” and would help avoid situations where container hauliers handling imported containers found themselves unwittingly overloaded, with obvious implications for road safety.

“Over the last few years, there have been growing incidences of hauliers reporting a problem in this area,” he said. “This is a genuine tightening up of the system and is good news for hauliers because it places additional responsibility on shippers to get it right.”