Experts in container rentals, sales and customization.   |   Let us help you today! 800.686.9114

Tucson, AZ Experts in Container Rental, Sales & Customization


Service Areas Near Me

Southwest Mobile Storage - Best Mobile Storage & Office Containers In Tucson, AZ

Southwest Mobile Storage is a family-owned shipping container business founded in 1995. Our strength for more than 25 years comes from the specialized knowledge and passion of our people, along with serving over 24,000 commercial, construction and residential customers. Our facility and expertise in maintaining, manufacturing, and delivering corrugated steel containers is unrivaled in the industry.

While the rental side of our business is regional with branches throughout the Southwest, our container sales and modification operations are nationwide and becoming global. Tucson, AZ offers a wide selection of portable offices and mobile storage containers you can rent, buy or modify.

Our experts in container rental, sales and customization are committed to providing you the highest quality and best experience from service to delivery - our reputation depends on it.

Whether your need is for storage, office space, moving, multi-purpose or custom use, we've got your back. Here's how:

Storage Containers Tucson, AZ

What Clients Say About Us



We bring your storage container to you for convenient, easy access at your home, business or jobsite. Plus, you'll get more choice in storage space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of a pod or add on building, saving money and energy.


Not enough room to keep a storage container at your business, home or construction site? No problem - we can store it for you. Plus, you get 70% more space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of public storage units.


Need a permanent storage solution for your business, residence or construction? We sell new and used shipping containers in many sizes with a variety of add-ons. Or customize a container to your specific storage needs with our certified fabrication experts.


Take your time packing with our moving containers. We'll deliver to your business or home and pick it up whenever you're ready to move. So, you don't have to stress about moving or making multiple trips in one day, like if you rented a moving truck.


Our moving container solutions ensure the long-distance move of your home or business is highly efficient and affordable throughout the southwest. In fact, we usually cost 20%-40% less than full-service movers.


We understand move-in and move-out dates might be different. We can store your moving container at our highly secure facilities until you're ready to move to your new home or business location, and you can conveniently access it at any time.


Whether you need a workspace, conference room, or other office requirement, our ground-mounted mobile offices meet any and all of your business needs. Plus, it's faster and easier than building additions.


If you need your shipping container to serve multiple uses, such as office-storage combos, breakrooms and even utilities, we've got you covered. We'll modify a custom container to fit your business needs and bring your business to the next level


We'll create a custom container to fit your unique needs anywhere in the US. With our container modification expertise, we make any idea a reality. From pop-up stores to multi-story structures, our unrivaled facilities and fabrication experts do it all.

You'll get your own dedicated storage and container expert to serve as your one point of contact for easy, convenient service you can trust.
With our wide selection of intermodal containers for sale and rent, you'll find exactly what you need, from size, to type and condition.
We maintain our rental fleet to the highest standard - our integrity depends on it.
Our certified, experienced Conex container modification experts have more than 500 years combined experience modifying ISO containers.
All of our containers come with high security dual-locking system for no additional charge, so you can rest assured your stored items stay safe and that you don't have to pay extra for it.
At our unrivaled 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility, ensuring your custom shipping container is made exactly to your specifications.
With our level of service, quality and expertise, you won't find a better value anywhere else.
Our portable offices include lighting and electrical outlets, internet hookups, HVAC and were crafted by our in-house steel container fabrication experts for top-quality construction.

Premium Quality - High Security

With Southwest Mobile Storage, you get much more than a POD or typical Conex box. You also get high security, unparalleled service and unmatched container modification expertise and facilities. No other company offers that much.

Shipping containers and storage containers come in a range of sizes. The most common external lengths are 20ft and 40ft with a width of 8ft. ISO Containers are typically 8ft 6in tall, but high cube containers are 9ft 6in tall. We also have steel containers in a variety of sizes from 10ft long to 45ft long to rent or buy, and we can modify shipping containers into any size you want.

 Rent Storage Containers Tucson, AZ

SMS Mobile Storage Containers have these high quality features:

1/8" thick steel plate bottom side rails
High strength steel supporting cross members
1 1/8" thick hardwood floor with galvanized self-tapping screws
16-gauge corrugated steel walls
16-gauge roof
270-degree swing cargo door(s)
High security dual-locking system*
Spot-grinded, primed & repainted with a beige high-grade water reducible alkyd direct-to-metal enamel*
* Comes standard on all rental units

SMS portable workspace containers have these structural features:

High security window bars, lever & deadbolt set with lock box
Studs & R-19 Insulation covered with wood paneling
1 1/8" marine board floor is covered with a durable single part gray epoxy coating
Dual pane low-E horizontal sliding windows with screens and miniblinds
18 Gauge steel polystyrene core 3-hour fire rated personnel door
All of our workspaces are manufactured in-house and arrive new or restored to factory specifications
Exterior load center operating on 100 Amp single phase 230 Volt power
Light switch, receptacles and 4' light fixtures; all wiring is Romex 12/2
CAT-6 voice and data lines with electrical junction box
HVAC units ranging from 1 ton to 2 ton on rentals; ability to customize up to 10 tons of cooling

Having flexible storage containers options is important, but security is crucial to protect your peace of mind and your possessions.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, we don't believe in leaving things to chance. We want you to rest easy knowing your inventory, documents, tools, equipment and other items are safe 24/7. That is why we equip SMS high-security slide bolt locking systems and lockboxes on our entire fleet of rental freight containers.


High-security slide-bolt locking system and extra-long lock box, giving you twice the security and peace of mind.
No holes to ensure your rental shipping container is wind and water-tight.
No rust for your safety.
14-gauge corrugated steel for strength and reinforcement.

Contact us to speak with a helpful, friendly representative to better understand our full range of capabilities. We are happy to answer any questions you have, go over pricing and set up a time and place to deliver your Conex box. Our quotes are 100% free and you are under no obligation to pay for your consultation.


When you own a business or manage one, it's crucial to have efficient, affordable ways to store inventory and supplies, whether it's to grow your business or adapt to changes in the market, like the many caused by the pandemic.

Renting storage containers to keep at your business eliminates the cost and hassles of sending your staff to offsite storage facilities. Steel containers with roll up doors make storing and retrieving items faster and easier. Auto repair shops and other businesses that need easy access throughout the workday to secure storage for tools, parts, equipment or supplies find renting shipping containers to be the best solution for their business storage needs. Southwest Mobile Storage has your back.

 Storage Containers For Rent Tucson, AZ

Renting portable offices gives your business more workspace, breakrooms, pop up stores, security booths and more, without the cost and red tape associated with constructing building additions. Plus, a steel storage container fits neatly into one parking space and provides much stronger security than Pods and way more convenience than self-storage units.

If you have a specific need, we can modify shipping containers to build whatever you need to grow your business. Whether it's a portable workspace to run your business, like a pop-up container bar, or a durable facility for scientific research, like a container laboratory, or even a container gym, our unrivaled fabrication facility and modification experts got you covered. Our full-time, in-house staff of certified welders, engineers, electricians, carpenters and painters have over 500 years combined experience modifying thousands of container projects for just about any business use you can imagine.


Offsite storage alternatives cause a mess of hassles and headaches. Expanding office space and storage capacity at your location saves time, money and hassle of making multiple trips offsite.
We offer more choice in security, size and features in steel Conex boxes or ISO shipping containers than a public storage unit or Pod for less cost and far greater service.
We offer flexible, month-to-month rental agreements and prorate by the day after your first 28-day billing cycle.
With us, you get a dedicated account manager you can rely on, so you can focus on running your business than waste time with a different person every time you call that doesn't know or care as much.
While other companies may have some staff for modifying containers, most outsource the work, so you don't know who is actually doing the modifications or how much they're marking up the price.
 Mobile Storage Containers Tucson, AZ
When you modify a shipping container for your business, you won't have to worry about expensive, lengthy and complicated construction.
We have modified thousands of containers nationwide and internationally for more than 25 years for NASA, US Navy, GCP Applied Technologies, Helix and Sundt to name a few. And rent containers to Amazon, Walmart and many of other nationally recognized brands.
Our extensive staff makes it possible to custom build multiple projects simultaneously and our 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility prevents contaminants from interfering with fabrication, which delivers better quality and precision.


With an extensive in-house staff and 90,000 sq ft container modification facility, we're able to deliver consistently high quality and work on multiple projects simultaneously for a fast turnaround.

Other companies don't have the facility, staff or resources to modify shipping containers and will outsource the work to various shops who may not have the special experience or tools needed to modify the right way.

You can rest assured knowing your custom container is safe in our hands. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications through every step of the process.

Renting a moving container from us makes your move much less stressful because you won't have to rush to pack your whole house into a moving truck in one day. Instead, you can take your time packing over the course of a month.

Our ISO shipping containers are weatherproof and come with vault-like security, so you don't have to worry about theft or damage to your belongings.

You won't get that level of security from U-Haul or other moving truck companies.

Renting a storage container at your home keeps your belongings close and gives you convenient 24/7 access, so you're always able to retrieve the contents of your container when you need to.

We know move in and move out dates don't always line up. We can store your packed rental container at our secure facility until your new home is ready.

With our mobile storage containers for rent in Tucson, AZ, you can save up to 40% when compared to full-service long-distance movers, while gaining more flexibility in your schedule.


We know your needs may change suddenly. With our extensive inventory and variety of sizes of portable offices and shipping containers to rent, buy or modify in Tucson, AZ, we provide fast service and the best value possible so it's easy for you to get whatever you need when you need it.

Renting storage containers and portable offices from us gives you more flexibility when it comes to your schedule and options. If you don't have enough space at your current location or simply would prefer offsite storage, you can keep your rental storage and office containers at your location or ours - whichever is most convenient for you. You also get more options to choose from when it comes to size and features, like portable offices with divided rooms for private meetings or office/storage combos for storage and office space in one container. All while costing a fraction of the price of a pod or self-storage facility.

You can also buy new or used freight containers from us and choose from a variety of add-ons, including lights, electricity, doors and windows. Or fully customize a shipping container to save time, money and energy by skipping the expensive, lengthy process of constructing building additions. We can modify a Conex box into whatever you can imagine for any use you need, from construction tool cribs to office buildings, monitoring stations, mobile communication towers and much more. The possibilities are endless.


You'll never face hidden fees or surprises with us. We give you transparent billing up front at the best prices.

With us, you get a reliable, dedicated point of contact, who keeps you updated every step of the way. You can rest assured knowing you'll always get what you need, when you need it.

No other company has the breadth and depth of staff and experience that we do when it comes to modifying shipping containers. Our certified welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters have more than 500 years of combined experience in fabricating custom steel containers.

We prorate your rent by the day after the first 28-day billing cycle, so you don't have to pay for a full month when you only have your mobile containers and offices for a few days.

While other companies may be able to do small container modifications, most don't have an in-house fabrication staff or 90,000 sq ft fabrication facility like we do. As a result, they outsource the work on your custom container, so you don't know who's actually building it.

Rest assured knowing your modified shipping container will be built to the highest quality standards. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors check every step of the fabrication process to ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications.


Whether you're in need of a storage container for your commercial business, a portable office for your construction site, or a moving container for your home, our process is simple and straightforward.

Choose Your Container

Choose the mobile storage solution that works best for your needs. In this step, you will let us know the number of containers you need, their sizes and what types of doors to equip.

Choose Your Options

Let us know if you would like to add any of our rental options, like a folding table or shelving.

Choose Your Security

Choose from padlocks, puck locks and other enhanced security options. All of our storage containers come standard with dual-locking, vault-like security.

Choose Your Delivery Timeframe

You can expect standard delivery within 3-5 days of your order. If you need expedited delivery, we will do everything in our power to accommodate your needs.

Pick-Up Planning

Do you need to keep your shipping container at our location? Prefer to have our team deliver your packed container to a location of your choice? Let us know, and we'll be by your side to work out the logistics.




Let our team know where we should deliver your mobile storage container for rent in Tucson, AZ. Be sure to let us know if there are any special conditions that might prevent our drivers from entering your chosen destination. Before you schedule your delivery, let us know which direction you would like the doors of your container to face.



Our drivers can deliver your storage container Monday-Friday, between the hours of 6AM and 2PM local time. Our two-hour delivery window is the most precise in the industry. If you desire another delivery time outside of our standard delivery options, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. As a courtesy, our driver will call you at least 30 minutes before they arrive at your drop-off destination.



Before we deliver your Conex box, prepare your delivery area by ensuring that there are no low overhangs, arches, wires, trees or any other obstacles that could interfere with your delivery. It's a good idea to mark the space where you would like your steel container placed.



When our driver arrives, they will back our truck into the space where you would like your shipping container placed. Once we arrive, we will ensure that your container is delivered safely and securely. If placed on asphalt or pavement, we will use wood dunnage pads to make sure your ground surface is protected and the container is level.


Check out our FAQ page or reach out to our helpful customer service team today @


Latest News in Tucson, AZ

LGI Homes Opens New Community near Tucson

Red Rock Village features a stunning lineup of single-family homes priced from the low-$300sLGI Homes offers a variety of open-concept floor plan options at Red Rock Village, with new homes ranging from efficient 3-bedroom plans with large living areas, to grand 5-bedroom homes with designer kitchens and upstairs lofts. Each home is outfitted with the incredible LGI Homes ...

Red Rock Village features a stunning lineup of single-family homes priced from the low-$300s

LGI Homes offers a variety of open-concept floor plan options at Red Rock Village, with new homes ranging from efficient 3-bedroom plans with large living areas, to grand 5-bedroom homes with designer kitchens and upstairs lofts. Each home is outfitted with the incredible LGI Homes CompleteHome™ package, including all new stainless steel kitchen appliances, gorgeous granite countertops and espresso wood cabinets. In addition to these spectacular upgrades, every new home has stunning curb appeal with covered entryways and low maintenance front yard landscaping.

Located off I-10, this incredible community overflows with world-class amenities. Residents will love private access to multiple swimming pools with water slides, a basketball court, baseball fields, skate park, children’s playground, a picnic area, and sand volleyball courts. In addition, parents of elementary-age children will love the convenience of the on-site elementary school. Nearby, homeowners will enjoy the hiking and biking trails at Picacho Peak State Park, as well as the Tucson Premium Outlets for shopping and entertainment.

The lifestyle you desire awaits at Red Rock Village – the perfect community to call home. New homes start in the low-$300s. For additional information or to schedule a tour, interested homebuyers are encouraged to call (855) 608-5200 ext 463 or visit

About LGI Homes, Inc.

LGI Homes, Inc. is a pioneer in the homebuilding industry, successfully applying an innovative and systematic approach to the design, construction and sale of homes. As one of America’s fastest growing companies, LGI Homes has a notable legacy of more than 19 years of homebuilding excellence, over which time it has closed more than 50,000 homes and has been profitable every year. Headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, LGI Homes has operations across 35 markets in 20 states and, since 2018, has been ranked as the 10th largest residential builder in the United States based on units closed. Nationally recognized for its quality construction and exceptional customer service, LGI Homes’ commitment to excellence extends to its more than 900 employees, earning the Company numerous workplace awards at the local, state and national level, including Top Workplaces USA’s 2022 Cultural Excellence Award. For more information about LGI Homes and its unique operating model focused on making the dream of homeownership a reality for families across the nation, please visit the Company’s website at


Rachel Eaton

(281) 362-8998 ext. 2560

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

The Snowflake plan by LGI Homes
LGI Homes at Red Rock Village offers new, move-in ready homes and world-class amenities in Red Rock, Arizona. Pricing starts from the $300s.

Arizona Opera brings 'The Sound of Music' to Tucson stage

But this weekend, the hills will come alive with the sound of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic when Arizona Opera mounts the production at the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall on Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12.The production features the husband and wife team of soprano Cadie J. Bryan and baritone ...

But this weekend, the hills will come alive with the sound of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic when Arizona Opera mounts the production at the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall on Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12.

The production features the husband and wife team of soprano Cadie J. Bryan and baritone Jonathan Bryan in the lead roles of Maria Rainer and Captain Von Trapp.

“The Sound of Music” tells the story of the Trapp family singers, one of the world’s best-known concert groups in the pre-World War II era, and their daring escape from Nazi-controlled Austria in 1938. The story is based on Maria’s 1949 memoir “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers,” which inspired the West German film in 1956 and Rogers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical in 1959; it was the pair’s final musical.

The story: Maria takes a job as governess to widowed naval commander Georg von Trapp’s seven children. She falls in love with the children and agrees to marry Georg, with whom she eventually falls in love.

The family starts singing in the mid-1930s and quickly becomes a popular touring group. But on the eve of Anschluss in 1938, when Germany annexed Austria, Georg is ordered to serve in the German navy. He and Maria decide they have to flee the country with their children.

The music: “The Sound of Music” is rich with popular songs that have become cornerstones in the Great American Song Book including “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Do-Re-Mi” and the title song, “The Sound of Music.”

The married couple: Cadie and Jonathan Bryan, who have been married two years, see a bit of themselves in their roles of Captain and Maria.

“We respect each other as people and as artists, and I think that’s one of the foundational qualities of the Captain’s and Maria’s relationship,” Cadie said in a recent Arizona Opera “Behind the Scenes” interview with the company’s President and General Director Joseph Specter.

“Usually, when playing a romantic role, I have to focus on how I’m going to pretend to love my counterpart in front of the audience,” Jonathan told Specter. “In this case, I’m more concerned with how I’m going to pull off pretending I haven’t fallen in love with her yet for half of the show.”

“My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” was the first song Cadie remembers singing in front of an audience during a kindergarten Christmas program.

“I’ve always loved that song, and eventually, I fell in love with every other song and grew old enough to appreciate the musical as a whole,” she said. “I think most people smile at the thought of it, whether it’s for the amazing music, the beautiful Austrian landscapes, the human ideals, or all of the above. In a way, I don’t feel like I’m playing just Maria. I’m playing ‘The Sound of Music’. It’s larger than me, and it carries a lot of weight for me. I just want to do it the justice it deserves.”

The staging: The scenery, props and costumes we’ll see on the Music Hall stage are from the 2022 Glimmerglass Festival production co-produced by Houston Grand Opera, according to Arizona Opera.

5 restaurants and bars that have opened in the Tucson area in 2023

spotlight alert top storyCheck out these new restaurants and bars that have debuted in Tucson — or opened new locations — so far in 2023.Main Event is a family-friendly bowling, arcade and entertainment venue that opened its first Tucson location in March.Where: 4700 S Landing WayPhone: (520) 503-3301Website: Main EventThis popular chain that specializes in...

spotlight alert top story

Check out these new restaurants and bars that have debuted in Tucson — or opened new locations — so far in 2023.

Main Event is a family-friendly bowling, arcade and entertainment venue that opened its first Tucson location in March.

Where: 4700 S Landing Way

Phone: (520) 503-3301

Website: Main Event

This popular chain that specializes in Chicago-style hot dogs opened in February where Claim Jumper once stood at the El Con Center.

Where: 3761 E Broadway Blvd

Phone: 520-246-2300

Website: Portillo's

Where: 5615 E. Broadway Blvd.

Phone: (520) 613-2420

Website: Dave’s Hot Chicken

Blue Front, home to American comfort foods, opened in January.

Where: 110 E. Congress St.

Phone: (520) 849-7964

Website: Blue Front

A new food truck park opened in February at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet.

Where: 4100 S. Palo Verde Road

Phone: (866) 440-2810

Website: Comida Park


Pascal (They/Them) joined the Arizona Daily Star in 2022 as a digital producer. Their background in alternative digital journalism excites them about the digital stories being produced.

What's a croffle? This mall vendor is the only place in Tucson to get one

A croffle is a cross between a waffle and a croissant. The hybrid dessert was invented in South Korea and has recently made it stateside.

Celebrity Las Vegas chefs opening Tucson restaurant

For Star subscribers: The new restaurant, with the slogan "Bites and Liquid Courage," will take over the Funky Monk space.

The highly anticipated Portillo's is now open in Tucson

Ten months after announcing plans to expand into Tucson, the Chicago-based Portillo's is open, serving Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches.

New game, entertainment center makes southwest Tucson a bigger draw

For Star subscribers: The 50,000-square-foot Main Event joins dozens of restaurants, shops and a movie theater, establishing the area as an entertainment hot spot.

This German food truck brings the best and the Wurst from Baden-Wurttemberg

Tucson doesn't have a lot of German food. But between the months of October and April, our German food truck count increases to two. German Food Station is a food truck specializing in Swabian cuisine.

Hot chicken eatery loved by Drake is opening in Tucson

For Star subscribers: Dave's Hot Chicken, which includes the rapper Drake as an investor, is opening the first of three locations in midtown Tucson.

This pizza spot on Tucson's northwest side has a new name

For Star subscribers: When the owners tweaked the menu and concept at the pizzeria, they also changed the name, drawing inspiration from their parents love story.

Desert Bluegrass Fest returns to Marana

This is the festival’s 11th year in Marana since the Desert Bluegrass Association hosted its first event in the early 2000s.The three-day festival featuring live music and workshops takes over the Gladden Farms Community Park Friday, March 10, through Sunday, March 12. The event attracts a multigenerational audience, with families bringing young kids to see performances by acoustic bluegrass artists.The festival kicks off at 3 p.m. Friday with a Des...

This is the festival’s 11th year in Marana since the Desert Bluegrass Association hosted its first event in the early 2000s.

The three-day festival featuring live music and workshops takes over the Gladden Farms Community Park Friday, March 10, through Sunday, March 12. The event attracts a multigenerational audience, with families bringing young kids to see performances by acoustic bluegrass artists.

The festival kicks off at 3 p.m. Friday with a Desert Bluegrass tradition: the band scramble. That’s when instrumentalists of all skill levels are invited to participate in a live contest performance.

The association for a number of years hosted two bluegrass festivals: a fall event at the AVA at Casino del Sol and the spring festival in Marana. In 2015, the association stopped hosting the fall event because they could no longer book the AVA.

California’s Central Valley Boys, which plays a traditional style of bluegrass, will make their Desert Bluegrass Festival debut this weekend. The group, which has been performing for 14 years, has performed in Prescott, Casa Grande and Kingman in past years.

This weekend also marks their first time performing with the band’s new fiddler, Jack Kinney, who joined the band after its original fiddler, Peter Hicks, died last September.

“We’ve got a hotshot young ace who’s a fabulous performer and a good friend of ours,” said bass player Dave Gooding.

The Central Valley Boys — in addition to Gooding and Kinney, banjo player Billy Moore, guitarist Yoseff Tucker and John Cogdill on mandolin — formed in 2009 in Central Valley, California. Members, who wear vibrantly colored matching outfits and cowboy hats on stage, have won numerous awards from the Northern California Bluegrass Society.

“We’ve taken this niche music and knocked it down a little smaller,” Gooding said.

The Central Valley Boys will perform at 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. The members also will lead instrumental workshops throughout the weekend.

Other bands on the lineup: Sierra Sweethearts, The Sonoran Dogs, Jam Pak Blues ‘N’ Grass, The Arizona Wildflowers, Hamilton Beech, North of Lonesome, The Cross-Eyed Possom and The Buckjumpers.

Admission to the festival is $20 per day Saturday and Sunday or $30 for a weekend pass; it’s free on Friday. The festival runs from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Gladden Farms Park, 12205 N. Tangerine Farms Road.

Ohio, Arizona hazmat disasters hold lessons for owners, carriers in the fight against safety complacency

Reading recent news updates, I was reminded of times in my life when major events transformed the ways we live and work. The train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, is a very big deal. And we should all be concerned for our community’s health and safety. I grew up when the public was easily kept in the dark -- we had no Internet, of course, and less freedom of information. The only news received came through the AM radio, a local newspaper or, if you had a TV, the nightly news broadcast.The initial reaction to the Ohio train wreck ...

Reading recent news updates, I was reminded of times in my life when major events transformed the ways we live and work. The train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, is a very big deal. And we should all be concerned for our community’s health and safety. I grew up when the public was easily kept in the dark -- we had no Internet, of course, and less freedom of information. The only news received came through the AM radio, a local newspaper or, if you had a TV, the nightly news broadcast.

The initial reaction to the Ohio train wreck has the character of response to what I'll call a fast failure. Nearly every day there is additional information being reported regarding that huge black cloud of who-knows-what chemicals being burned -- those that hadn’t leaked away already. And there will likely continue to be reports of why the companies and people in charge have decided to respond as they have. With the financial losses and liability heaped upon the rail company, damage control is in overdrive, an attempt at defense and limiting financial repercussions.

Will government agencies tasked with the responsibility of oversight gain traction for future mandates aimed at improving safety with new equipment and technology (some of which we are learning had been proposed years ago)?

If there's any good to come out of these kinds of events, it's the opportunity to assess and change -- implement new procedures, clearer checks and balances through communication, better use of available technologies and of safety equipment. There are real opportunities to usher in improvements at the company level aimed at preventing an accident like this from happening again.

Yes, these are disruptions to how systems have evolved, but rather than going automatically negative, embrace the idea that, historically, disruptions are powerful forces for innovation and improvement, teeing up opportunities to solve problems. That’s the case even for individual actors who might be less than willing to accept the risk, and rewards, of change.

And consider how managing prevention over time can lull us into a mind-set of complacency. Investing in prevention can be a difficult cost to justify -- it’s only natural in the long absence of a crash or other incident to begin believing risk no longer exists. And when that happens, a systematic chain of slow failuresgets more likely, with potential to reverse all you thought had been prevented. That’s when the train leaves the tracks.

Will derailment consequences spill over to trucking?

I wouldn’t count out the possibility. This train wreck and hazmat catastrophe could eventually impact the trucking regulations related to hazmat, raising the bar for operators and companies that haul such commodities. Adding fuel to the fire, within days of the Ohio derailment, we saw a truck accident involving a hazmat load in a van near Tucson that closed I-10 for a day. Dramatic videos all around social media, and pictures in news reports, showed a poisonous cloud fuming up from the trailer.

[Related: 'Extensive closure' expected after I-10 hazmat spill]

Virality of the images fuels plenty speculation. I will confess I speculated, too. Just what had happened? It was as if I couldn’t help myself. Would this accident have captured as much attention as it did without the Ohio train wreck’s high profile? We’ll never know the answer to that question, but the timeline and severity of accidents such as these are reasons I suggest as truck drivers and owners may want to begin preparing to adjust.

Might the cost to haul hazmat be affected? As owners, will you be able to afford such increasing costs for liabilities, possible equipment, securement changes or more?

I’m only able currently to engage my intuition and past experience hauling some hazmat, as well as many other commodities. First off, should we even have to say that if we haul hazmat, we need to be more careful? Oh, some of the things I’ve seen, and it isn’t just our drivers, of course! I suggest people have a general attitude that out of sight is out of mind, as the old saying goes. Closing the trailer doors and hiding an unsecure load in today’s world still happens. Such a line of defense may sound good in our heads, but it won’t hold up later.

Trucking companies of all sizes should engage the people on the front lines, who often are being missed. Sure, after the accident, actions are taken, but then what happens? How often does compliance and procedure training consist of nothing more than a company handing out a few documents and a video, followed by a multiple-choice questionnaire to drivers and contractors? What happens from that point forward, what checks and balances are needed, and as the truck driver what should you want for your own liability defense?

Ever been told the old “you’ll figure it out as you go, or just ask another driver”? I know I have, and I ask: Is that the best we can do?

The Roadcheck inspection blitz this year might offer opportunities to re-engage, given the focus on securement, at least for non-bulk hazmat loads like the van load that gassed on I-10 in Arizona.

[Related: Inspectors focusing on anti-lock brakes, cargo securement during Roadcheck in May]

It can take time for us to develop interpersonal trust with any company’s office staff. Once trust is established, though, it’s not hard to bring investments in new, interactive ways to train well before there is an accident, and to deliver clearer, accurate information at the time of dispatch and throughout the trip. After all, working together, front-line operators and staff need to be able to measure quality assurance with a goal of continuous improvement.

I suggest that companies and operators get more proactive on this front. Execute more complete and accurate pre-trip inspections, document trip plans in detail, with pictures of the bills of lading, hazmat documents, placards and the commodities before and after being loaded. Have a live phone conversation before leaving customers to review all of this information -- parties in charge of risk management should sign off that procedures have been followed, requirements met.

Accountability among all the parties, thus, can be achieved -- and the parties protected when something happens, without systemic breakdown, without the proverbial train leaving the tracks.

Find more information about safety in practice, among a myriad of other topics, in the Overdrive/ATBS-coproduced "Partners in Business" manual for new and established owner-operators, a comprehensive guide to running a small trucking business. Click here to download the 2022 edition of the Partners in Business manual free of charge, and keep an eye out for a new, updated 2023 manual later in the month of March. If you're planning to attend the Mid-America Trucking Show at the end of the month, join us March 31 for a Partners in Business seminar with Overdrive editors, ATBS and this story's author.


This website publishes news articles that contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The non-commercial use of these news articles for the purposes of local news reporting constitutes "Fair Use" of the copyrighted materials as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law.